Welcome. The project started from a placement at university. Looking at the situation of school gardens in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There are many pieces of the puzzle and eco-justice, social justice, food security and education all find a home at my Blog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ontario Schools Healthy Food and Beverage Policy, parental involvement

The new healthy food and beverage policy will be enacted in September of 2011 and is already causing some anxiety in schools in Ontario. This policy restricts foods that are available for sale in all schools in Ontario. This includes lunch programs, bake sales and sports events. It doesn't apply to food brought from home.

In order to make the transition to healthy foods and drinks in Ontario schools, boards have been encouraged to develop a policy based on the provincial guidelines. The Lakehead District school board has just enacted such a process and I am excited to see this new policy when it is written. The Thunder Bay Catholic school board has taken a slightly different stance on this policy and has been invited to undertake a healthy schools, healthy communities initiative with OPHEA. This new project is to bring on board different community groups to make the catholic schools in this area healthier. Partners in this project include the city and health unit, as well as university.The project undertakes to make policy relating to the Ministry of Education foundations of a healthy school. These are;
  • High Quality Instruction and Programs
  • A healthy physical environment
  • A supportive social environment
  • community partnerships.
Schools are encouraged to put these foundations to use by participating in the Healthy schools recognition program.

The Ministry of Education also has a Healthy Schools Recognition program, which is in its 5th year. Here are some ideas that could be incorporated into the program; to plant a garden, establish walking clubs, start composting and inviting health professionals to schools. In order to promote healthy behaviors and practices, schools can make a pledge to take on healthy activity in their schools. Application can be found on the ministry website.

In order to make the new policy be understandable to all families, schools may need to look again as to how they involve parents in schools. There are some school wellness tools available on the Ministry of Education website to look at how to do this. Here are some other ideas to increase parental involvement in schools;
  • Staff training to increase the positivism during conferences and parental interaction. Staff also need to be respectful of parental involvement in schools, their ideas and background.
  • Information  to increase parental awareness of volunteer possibilities in schools.
  • Schools need to be flexible to allow for busy schedules
  • Childcare could be provided when parent-teacher conferences are taking place.
  • A parent room or resource room could be offered as a safe place for parents to feel welcome to the school setting.
  • Workshops and training for parents. This is important and could work well for understanding of the new policy.
To help involve parents in schools, the ministry has several grants that can be used to get parents into schools. Details of these can be found at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/schools.html The website lists details of the grants and what they can be used for in schools.
Parents need to feel a positive school climate in order to feel welcome and involved.

for further information, please see blog from Feb 24th

1 comment:

  1. Are community gardens supplying food to food school programs and if so how does this work ? is it a realistic practice for other communitys?