Toronto District School Board
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Nutrition FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Parents and volunteers make Nutrition programs work!

You will find many answers to your questions on our frequently asked questions by parents and volunteers in the menu selection.

You may also contact our Nutrition Liaison Office with a specific question

Frequently Asked Questions by Parents

For parents, nutrition programs offer a piece of mind that their children will not be hungry at school. Student Nutrition Programs offer a convenient, economical way to encourage and support the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.

Q. What type of food will be served in my child’s nutrition program?
A. Your child will be offered a selection of healthy food that tastes great!  
Based on the Student Nutrition Standard (1530K Revised, 2013) , developed by Toronto Public Health, your child will choose from healthy menus based on food groups from Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating

For Breakfast and Lunch, 3 food groups are provided.

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain products
  • Dairy

For Snack, 2 food groups are provided:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain products OR milk products

For Breakfast or Lunch, 4th food group is provided from Meat and alternatives.

Food is purchased from TDSB approved vendors or reputable local grocery stores.  There are bulk buying opportunities available through the Food and Logistics Department of Toronto Foundation for Student Success.

Q. What if my child has an allergy to a food?

A. Every effort will be made to control the school environment to minimize the exposure of identified allergens as part of a prevention plan, whenever possible, for example all schools are peanut-free.  Despite these efforts to reduce the risk of exposure to zero, the Board cannot ensure an allergen-free school environment.

When parents agree to have their child participate in the nutrition program, they must submit an allergy/food restriction form so that accommodations can be made.  For instance, if a child is allergic to milk, that child is not served milk.  If it is an anaphylactic allergy, the bin with food going into that student’s classroom is clearly labelled, kept separate and sanitized daily.  Every classroom bin has a class list attached with student allergies identified so that volunteers and supply teachers are aware which children have allergies.  The person running the nutrition program must be trained in Sabrina’s Law, be certified in safe food handling, reading product labels and ensure the food preparation area is sanitized daily.

Q. How is the food prepared for my child’s nutrition program?

A. Your nutrition program Lead  and/or volunteers prepare the menu and ensure your child’s food is delivered and served in a safe, clean environment that adheres to Toronto Public Health sanitary standards, including proper refrigeration and daily sanitizing of food preparation areas.

A Toronto Public Health inspector visits your school’s food preparation space to ensure it complies with all safety regulations.  All nutrition program Leads  are certified in safe food handling every two years so that they are able to implement the most current safety standards.  A Toronto Public Health dietitian reviews menus and visits your school to ensure your child is offered healthy food choices.  

Q. How is my child’s nutrition program funded?
A. Provincial and municipal grants cover a small portion of the program costs. Contributions from parents are necessary to make the program successful and meet funding criteria. Local School Nutrition Advisory Committee may suggest an amount for parents to contribute based on the cost needed to run your school’s program.  Nutrition programs are universal and available for all students, regardless of family’s ability to contribute financially.   For information on other funding sources, please contact one of our Nutrition Liaison Officers.

Q. Why does our school need a nutrition program?
A. The Toronto District School Board, through its Nutrition Foundation Statement, recognizes the direct relationship between healthy nutrition and academic achievement of students. 

Learning and enjoying healthy food gives students the tools to make healthy choices. Through nutrition programs, students are more likely to develop healthy life long eating habits which combat childhood obesity and chronic diseases.  Student Nutrition Programs improve learning outcomes, create healthy school environments and address hunger issues in a non-stigmatizing way.  Good nutrition is an asset for all students and is part of our school’s plan to support student success.

Q. How do I volunteer?
A. Volunteers are vital to the success of school nutrition programs. To volunteer, please speak with your school principal.  To ensure the safety of all children, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) requires police reference checks (26K 2/8/2008) for all adult volunteers who have contact with students. 

Schools may also welcome secondary school students who wish to volunteer toward their 40 hours of community service required to graduate.

For any other questions or more information please contact any one of us in the Student Nutrition Program Office.
Nutrition Liaison Officers


Frequently Asked Questions by Volunteers

Volunteers make Student Nutrition programs successful. We welcome you to get involved! Volunteers can be anyone, parents, grandparents, students, community and corporate members. You don’t need special training or credentials to help feed our students, just a warm smile, a kind heart and helpful hands!  Volunteer Handbook

Q. What will I need to do before I can volunteer in a program?
A. The first step is to contact the school and arrange a visit with the principal to discuss volunteer opportunities.  In order to provide a positive experience for you as a volunteer and to ensure that we maintain safety requirements for our students, it is best to understand the particular student nutrition program and school environment.

The principal will ask you to complete a police reference check. This is a requirement for all adult volunteers who have contact with students.  

Q. What will be my duties as a volunteer?
A. As a volunteer with the student nutrition program, you may be helping to prepare food, purchasing, receiving deliveries, serving food, helping with clean up and organization.  Other possible duties may be:  collecting parent contributions, bookkeeping and fundraising activities.  You may want to be part of a Student Nutrition Advisory Committee at your school.  We will work with you to match your skills and experience with the needs of the nutrition program. 

Q.  Do I have to volunteer for the nutrition program at school every day?
A. No. Most student nutrition programs develop monthly calendars for volunteers so you know your schedule in advance. Our volunteers have a great deal of flexibility to set the number of hours and days they can commit to the program. Any amount of time is valuable and appreciated, e.g. every Tuesday to chop vegetables, 2 hours per week to help with bookkeeping, etc.  

Q. What kind of training and support for volunteers is available?
A. Volunteers who prepare and serve food for the nutrition program have the option of attending a Food Handling workshop, offered at no cost, by the Toronto Public Health department. This training will help you to be knowledgeable about safe food storage and handling, as well as procedures for situations of emergency, health and safety and injury reports.  For more information on workshops, contact one of our Nutrition Liaison Officers. 

Q. Can students enrolled in a secondary school volunteer?
A. Yes, we welcome high school volunteers. The hours given to the nutrition program contribute to the 40 hours of community service required to obtain a secondary school diploma. Most secondary school students volunteer in the nutrition program running at their home school, if their school doesn’t have one, they can be matched up with an elementary school nearby. Secondary school students would be invaluable in volunteering in the breakfast programs before their school day starts.  Contact the Principal of your nearby school or call one of the Nutrition Liaison Officers.

Q. Are there any special requirements for secondary school student volunteers?
A. There are no special requirements for secondary school volunteers. The Toronto District School Board does not require a police reference check for persons under the age of 18 as long as they are registered in school.

Student volunteers complete a 2 hour Food Handling workshop offered by the Public Health department at no cost.  Contact one of our Nutrition Liaison Officers for more information about times and location.

Without the dedication and commitment of thousands of volunteers, student nutrition programs would not be possible. Thank you for being part of student success and well-being.

Our Student Nutrition Program office is always a good place for additional information.