Comprehensive, Integrated Food and Nutrition Programs in Canadian Schools: A Healthy and Sustainable Approach


Jess Haines and Amberley T. Ruetz



Eating a healthy diet is critically important, especially for children; it leads to short- and long-term health benefits, increases academic performance, and sets up healthy habits for a lifetime. To ensure all Canadian children are receiving these benefits, a universal and comprehensive National School Food Program is a critical step in providing children with healthy, safe food, reducing child and household food insecurity, teaching food skills, and supporting local food systems.



Click here for the two-page Policy Brief. In summary, our recommendations include:

1. Nutrition education should be required in K–12 curricula, with a focus on hands-on food literacy, school policies, and meal programs.

2. Any development of a national level program to promote healthy eating habits among children and teens should be integrated and comprehensive, meaning:

  • healthy eating habits are included in the curricula, and also modelled and supported through policies and hands-on food skills programs in schools;
  • local communities, school administrations and indigenous communities continue to have autonomy; and
  • universally-available to all students
  • sufficiently funded and supported with the necessary physical infrastructure and human resources.

3. Policy actions can contribute to this goal, including:

  • Convening cross-ministry working groups to provide comprehensive support to school food programs;
  • harmonized nutrition standards that are fully implemented, monitored and regularly evaluated;
  • enhancing current curriculum and training.