School Food and Beverage Policy - Ontario Nutrition Standards for Schools

The Ontario government introduced its School Food and Beverage Policy in 2010. It includes nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in schools. It applies to food and beverages sold in all venues on school property such as cafeterias, vendingmachines and tuck shops; through all programs, included catered lunch programs; and
at all events on school property, including bake sales and sports events, for school purposes.

The nutrition standards do not apply to food and beverages that are brought from home.

Introducing nutrition standards is one part of the government’s plan to develop healthy learning environments and improve student achievement in Ontario schools. Research has shown that children who eat a healthy diet are more attentive, more ready to learn and more likely to be successful in school.

How Do the Nutrition Standards Work?
As a guide on what can and cannot be sold in Ontario schools, the nutrition standards divide all food and beverage products into three categories:

Healthiest, Sell Most (80%): Products in this category are the healthiest option and generally have higher levels of essential nutrients and lower amounts of fat, sugar, and/or sodium. They must make up at least 80 per cent of all food and beverage choices that are available for sale.

Healthy, Sell Less (20%): Products in this category may have slightly higher amounts of fat, sugar, and/or sodium than food and beverages in the Sell Most category. They must make up no more than 20 per cent of all food and beverage choices that are available for sale. In addition, food prepared and served by schools should always be prepared in a healthy way using cooking methods that require little or no added fat or sodium, such as baking, barbequing, boiling, broiling, grilling, microwaving, poaching, roasting, steaming or stir-frying.

Not Permitted for Sale: Products in this category generally contain few or no essential nutrients and/or contain high amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. Food and beverages in this category may not be sold in schools and include such items as:candy, energy drinks, sports drinks, deep-fried and other fried foods.

The Ministry’s School Food and Beverage Policy – Quick Reference Guide 2010 provides information on the above categories and the formulas used to determine the nutrition standards. 

The standards do not apply to food and beverages that are:

-       Brought from home or purchased off of school premises and are not for resale in schools

-       Offered in schools to students at no cost

-       Available for purchase during field trips off school premises

-       Sold in schools for non-school purposes (e.g. sold by an outside organization that is using the gymnasium after school hours for a non-school related event)

-       Sold for fundraising activities that occur off school premises

-       Sold in staff rooms

Special Event Days
In consultation with school council, the school principal may designate up to 10 “special-event” days throughout the year, which are exempt from the standards. Although “special-event” days allow greater flexibility with food and beverages, schools are encouraged to consider selling food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards.

Learn More
The following are links to the Ministry’s website where you can find information on the Ministry’s School Food and Beverage Policy:

More Resources
Visit Canada’s Food Guide for information on healthy eating, nutrition labels and more at 

Check Foodland Ontario for information on local and seasonal foods throughout the province at 

Find healthy recipes, plus information on nutrition, menu planning and healthy weights at Eat Right Ontario at 

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