Teaching about food and nutrition

A teacher sitting with children eating lunch

Learning to enjoy a variety of foods takes time and practice. Students benefit from many opportunities to build their comfort and skills with food at school, in a pressure-free environment. Food is also a powerful teaching tool with the potential for many cross-curricular connections.

Build food literacy in schools

Consider the following questions about 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?
  • How 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?

Key messages for educators

Focus food education around food and nutrition on experiences that allow students to explore a variety of foods and build their comfort with choosing, growing and preparing foods. These experiences help children apply the messages from the new Canada's Food Guide.

Teaching and talking to students about food and nutrition

Teach children to explore internal cues of hunger, fullness, and satiety (e.g. what does your tummy say?) as opposed to external cues (e.g. eat half a plate of vegetables and fruit) when deciding how much to eat.

Teach children how to spot nutrition fads and find good sources for nutrition advice.

Role model talking about food in a neutral, non-judgmental manner.

Suggested answers to common food and nutrition questions from students

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.

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.

Featured resource: Teach Food First

A K-8 educator's toolkit for exploring Canada's food guide - lessons align with the BC curriculum, are grade-specific and age-appropriate and were developed with equity and culturally inclusive considerations.

Learn more

Two people sharing a healthy meal together

Learn more about teaching food first and what it means to develop a positive relationship with food.

Child and parent gardening in vegetable garden in the backyard

Featured resource

Hands on Food

A food-based teaching resource for BC's primary and secondary school educators. Developed by experienced educators and health professionals, it includes engaging lesson plans designed for grades 4 to 7 but easily adaptable to any grade level.

Learn more

Lesson ideas for educators

Through experiential learning around food, students will be able to make meaningful connections between cooking, growing and enjoying eating a variety of food together to support lifelong healthy eating habits.

The following lesson plans align with the 2019 Canada's Food Guide.

Information for parents and school newsletters

Related articles

School food environments

School food programs

Relationship with food and body