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Supporting healthy eating at school

Connecting Around Food During COVID-19

With routines and structures turned upside down, the one thing that continues to be essential is that we still need to eat! Below are home learning opportunities and additional resources designed to connect food with the BC curriculum and take the pressure off ourselves and kids to nurture healthy eating.

For Educators and Teachers:

If you are inviting families to explore food as part of your home learning opportunities, consider sharing the articles relating to cooking and eating with children in the "For Parents and Caregivers section" below.

Connecting around Food during COVID-19: Nutrition Education Home and School Learning Opportunities (30 min presentation, 30 min discussion) *Note: there was a land acknowledgement shared, in recognition of the unceded lands we were sharing from, which was not captured in the webinar recording. 

For parents and caregivers


For updated general information about COVID-19, visit Vancouver Coastal HealthHealthLink BC, and BCCDC.

Supporting healthy eating at school

Providing children with positive food experiences has been shown to promote both physical and mental health. Schools play a key role in shaping children’s eating attitudes and behaviours and help lay the foundation for a healthy relationship with food. Students do best when they have role models, and when foods offered both in and outside the classrooms are consistent with healthy eating messages. Learn more tips on how to support students in the following areas:

‎How can schools build a positive and healthy eating environment at school? 

Food culture and food systems are complex. Find out how we can support children to eat well and nurture a healthy relationship with food in the school setting and beyond:

Supporting Healthy Eating at School: What we Say and do Matters (30 min webinar plus 20 min Q&A)

3:45 What is healthy eating?

9:36 What is healthy eating at school?
18:23 Opportunities in the school setting
22:43 Resources and tools to support healthy eating at school
30:05 Summary and Q&A

Help kids eat, play and learn better 

Consider Play First Lunch Model

Applying the Play First Lunch Model‎ (2 min video, Global News)

More tips

Food program ideas

Food sales


Special events



Refer to these general tips about how to nurture healthy eaters at school.

‎Consider the following questions around building food literacy at your school:

  • How can we provide students with hands-on food experiences, rather than a focus on nutrition information?

  • What links can be made with activities in the classroom, garden, kitchen or community?

  • How can we create a supportive environment by improving access to healthy foods at school?

  • In what ways can we honour the social, traditional and cultural values of harvesting, preparing, and eating food?

  • What opportunities exist to partner with local farmers, food distributors, or community members to bring local and indigenous food and knowledge into our school?

Food literacy at school: Tools and examples

‎Key messages for educators for teaching food & nutrition

Teaching about food and nutrition is another aspect of food literacy. It is helpful to consider in advance strategies for addressing topics that may arise when teaching healthy eating that need to be handled with sensitivity. 

Using the 2019 Canada's food guide 

The following are some key messages and tips:

Tips on being a healthy role model in the classroom include: 

  • Modeling healthy eating behaviours (e.g. bring in lunches/snacks prepared at home that reflect comfort with a variety of foods).

  • Speaking positively about food and eating habits without expressing personal food preferences.

  • Dispelling assumptions based on stereotypes (e.g., thin students eat healthy, overweight students do not).

  • Consider that growing children have different nutritional needs (including requirements for calories, calcium and dietary fat), compared to adults.

  • Include weight and size discrimination when talking about bullying.  

  • Find out what to do if you suspect a student is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder.

Tips for discussing societal norms around our bodies include:

  • Emphasize that students can be healthy at a variety of body sizes and shapes (e.g., display images and use resources that show individuals with different body types).  Students who feel positive about their bodies find it easier to make decisions that promote good health. 

  • Avoid making assumptions that an underweight or overweight student is not eating healthy food and requires an intervention or that an average weight child is necessarily eating healthy food. 

  • Focus on health rather than weight, acknowledging that natural body development includes increases in weight and body fat. 

  • Watch for, discuss and address issues related to weight-based teasing/bullying or weight bias. 

  • Focus on teaching decision-making skills that can optimize healthy behaviours (e.g., media literacy, challenging peer norms about weight and shape, stress management). 

Other tips for teaching food and nutrition:

  • Consider curriculum links with school nutrition programs such as Farm to School BC, or take a trip to a local farm, forest, or shore.

  • Connect students with an Elder through your school district’s Indigenous Education team or with a farmer to learn about growing, harvesting, and preparing local or traditional foods.

  • Recognize inequities in our society and explore poverty reduction strategies with students.

  • Consider all the above strategies to encourage children to feel positive about eating and develop skills to enjoy a variety of foods. Refrain from classifying foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”, learning about food labelling, and nutrients (calories, fat, vitamins, etc.) as it can produce the opposite effect and encourage black-and-white thinking.

Lessons ideas

Through experiential learning around food, students will be able to make meaningful connections between cooking, growing and enjoy eating a variety of food together to support life-long healthy eating habits. The following lessonplans align with the 2019 Canada's Food guide.

‎Exploring food

‎Positive body image and mental health

Find the following lesson plans and other related tools at Promoting Positive Body Image through Comprehensive School Health.

‎Growing food

Local and sustainable food systems

Poverty awareness and reduction

Visit the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition website for more resources. 

Additional resources


How to feed school-aged children and youth

  • Adults decide what foods to offer, and when and where to serve meals and snacks.

  • Kids decide how much to eat, and which foods to choose from what is provided.

  • Involve kids in growing, selecting and preparing foods so that they can build their food skills.

`For more information see handouts: 

Additional resources


What to feed school-aged children and youth

Offer children and youth a variety of foods. As they see foods over and over again, they will build their comfort with a wider range of foods. Involving them in some of the meal planning, shopping, and cooking can also increase their ability to eat well and make mealtimes more pleasant in the long run.

Supporting a healthy body image for children and youth


Clients looking for nutrition assessment and support from a registered dietitian can:

Contact public health dietitian for schools

Public health dietitians work with public health staff, schools, and community partners to promote healthy eating environments in the school setting. Contact your local VCH community health centre to connect with a public health dietitian.

Contact Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC

Clients looking for nutrition assessment and support from a registered dietitian can call Dietitian Services at a HealthLink BC by dialing 8-1-1.

Content adapted from the Northern Health Population Health Nutrition pages.

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