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Ontario Nutrition Standards For Schools

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Ontario Nutrition Standards For Schools

Ministry of Education

Schools have an important role to play in helping students lead healthier lives, including teaching students the skills to make healthy choices and reinforcing those lessons through school practices.

The nutrition standards -- part of Ontario's new School Food and Beverage Policy,-- help schools provide healthy menu items for students.  The nutrition standards embody the principles of healthy eating outlined in Canada's Food Guide, and are intended to ensure that the food and beverages sold in schools contribute to students' healthy growth and development.

By September 1, 2011, all food and beverages sold in Ontario schools for school purposes must meet these nutrition standards. This includes food and beverages sold in venues (e.g., cafeterias, vending machines, tuck shops), through programs (e.g., catered lunch programs), and at events (e.g., bake sales, sports events).

Since 2003, Ontario has taken several steps to help students make healthier food choices. Dropping trans fat from lunchroom menus and banning junk food in elementary school vending machines and tuck shops are two examples.

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:

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. These items include candy, energy drinks and fried foods.

Healthiest: Products in this category generally have higher levels of essential nutrients and lower amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. They must make up at least 80 per cent of all food choices that are available for sale.  The same requirement applies to beverage choices. These items include extra-lean ground meat and whole grain breads.

Healthy: Products in this category may have slightly higher amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. They must make up no more than 20 per cent of all food choices that are available for sale.  The same requirement applies to beverage choices. These items include bagels and cheese.

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.

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