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Healthy Food in Schools

Student Leadership Awards: 2005-2008
Taking Action on Healthy Eating in Schools

The ‘Taking Action for Healthy Food in Schools’ Student Leadership Award was designed to encourage youth to take leadership action on promoting healthy eating in schools and improving school food environments.

  • Students indicated that they wanted more nutritious foods to be available in Manitoba schools.
  • Students are more receptive to food and nutrition programs into which they are able to give input.
  • Food choices are more acceptable when they are chosen by the students themselves.
  • Student involvement in school nutrition programs provides a significant contribution to the success of the program.

Up to ten awards of $300 were available annually to support student-led initiatives aimed at improving nutrition choices and environments in junior and senior high schools in Manitoba. In order to be eligible a school or school division needed to provide matching funds.

Schools applied in the Spring or Fall for projects to commence the following term.

Award winners were expected to submit a brief report describing activities undertaken, and an assessment of the outcomes or impact their project has had in the school.

The Award program was sustained through collaboration between Manitoba Health & Healthy Living, the Manitoba Council on Child Nutrition, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and Dietitians of Canada. 

Spring 2005

Ecole Viscount Alexander is a small French Immersion school with 270 students in Grades 5-9. The healthy eating plan involves activities which will educate students about portion sizes, improve foods available for purchase at the school, and provide better lunch hour supervision. A publicity campaign will be aimed at parents and students regarding healthy lunch choices using Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

Elm Creek School, is a small rural Manitoba school for 200 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The healthy eating plan proposed by the Grade 10 Start Your Own Business Class involves substantially improving the school canteen and dining area.

Garden City Collegiate is a large Winnipeg high school with over 900 students in Grades 9-12. Grade 11 and 12 Foods students have put forward a proposal to raise nutrition awareness in the two school cafeterias and in the vending machines, as well as to influence the items to be used for fundraisers. They have planned surveys, publicity campaigns, special speakers and special reward systems for good food choices.

Edward Schreyer School is a rural Manitoba school with 630 students in Grades 6-12. A School Nutrition Action Committee (SNAC) has been created, consisting of middle and high school students, teachers, administrators and a community wellness coordinator. Target issues for this school involve improving lunch specials, fundraising choices, and canteen and vending machine options.

Ecole River Heights School is a Winnipeg junior high school with 520 students in Grades 7 and 8. The student initiatives involve setting up a breakfast club to support behaviour changes around eating breakfast, both from a better learning perspective and by addressing weight and body image concerns. The students have planned to perform baseline surveys about attitudes and behaviours around eating breakfast, followed by some education and the establishment of a breakfast club, with another survey at the end of the school year to assess change.

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Fall 2005

St. Norbert Immersion is a French Immersion school consisting of 230 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. The overall goal of the Nutrition Committee at St. Norbert Immersion was to make sure that all food served in the school will be healthy. The focus of the project was the school canteen. The canteen initiative grew out of a coordinated and comprehensive food and nutrition program based on policy developed by the school. To begin the project, two surveys were conducted, one to determine the favourite food choices of students and the other to see what students had for lunch.

Hamiota Collegiate is a junior high/high school for Grades 7-12. The Hamiota Nutrition Action Committee began by creating a nutrition plan to identify nutritious foods which could be sold for profit. Drink machines were stocked with unsweetened fruit juices and water. A refrigerated vending machine was purchased by the school and was used to sell milk, yogurt, V-8 juice and nutrition snacks. Promotional and educational activities were included in the Hamiota Collegiate plan.

Minnedosa Collegiate is a small high school with 210 students in Grades 9-12. The School Nutrition Action Committee (SNAC), which was developed for this project, has targeted several areas for healthy food choice improvement, involving removal of coffee from the canteen, a milk prize program, promotion of healthy eating through special activities offered one week per month, improving food offered in the cafeteria, and offering a breakfast program. The Committee has identified a plan to promote their initiatives and for evaluation.

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Spring 2006

John W. Gunn is a middle school with approximately 470 students in Grades 6-8 that offers a Ukrainian immersion track. The plan developed by the students at John W. Gunn involved improving menu options at the school canteen, improving the dining room environment in the school lunch room with designated seating and improving the outside eating area, inviting guest speakers to address nutrition topics, continuation of the milk program, and implementing a joint nutrition/activity plan.

Valley Gardens is a junior high school with approximately 470 students in Grades 7-9. The student initiatives involve improving the canteen menu while considering student input, holding a ‘Name the Canteen’ contest to increase awareness of the canteen, renovating the canteen once a name is chosen, running promotions to encourage healthy food choices, offering taste-tests to promote new food items, and improving student traffic to reduce canteen line-ups.

Stony Mountain is an elementary school with approximately 260 students in Kindergarten to Grade 8. The school will be piloting the new “balanced school day” program, and the School Nutrition Action Committee (SNAC) plans to provide information to families on quick, healthy snack ideas for students. The students on SNAC developed a healthy snack booklet, “A Taste of Stony Mountain”, where healthier food options are indicated with a carrot symbol.

St. Claude School Complex is a small school with 265 students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 that offers English and Français tracks. The students developed a plan to have the canteen run by the school with support of parents, students, and staff, to offer healthy choices at competitive prices, to survey students to determine preferences, and to increase canteen hours of operation to meet student needs.

Treherne Collegiate is a small high school with approximately 150 students in Grades 9-12. The student initiatives involve improving food choices in the canteen, creating a food program for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a hot meal program for Tuesdays and Thursdays, determining student preferences via a survey, providing equipment such as a microwave for student use, and providing sufficient seating.

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Fall 2006

Argyle Alternative School is a small high school located in the inner city of Winnipeg with a diverse student body. The Student Leadership Committee of four students and two staff will meet and plan the steps required to deal with an alternative means to offer healthy snacks and beverages in the afternoon. The committee plans to assign roles and responsibilities and have student volunteers create posters and announcements on a regular basis.

College Churchill is a school in the Winnipeg School Division, which serves a population of approximately 470 students in grades 7 – senior 1. The Leadership Class plans to bring together the concepts of “fast food” and “good for you”. The plan is to once a month or bi-monthly pre-order healthy lunches form Subway, Wendy’s and Pita Pit and have the lunches delivered. A juice bar is planned to be open during the same lunch hour. The class will survey students and teachers to determine interest level and parents would be kept informed of the activities.

Ecole River Heights is a school in the Winnipeg School Division, which serves a population of 550 students in grades 7 & 8. This school is into phase two of their student leadership activities.
The SNAC plans on increasing student awareness about what constitutes healthy eating, introduce new healthy food items to the lunch canteen menu, offer fun incentives for the “perfect lunch”, continue the breakfast club and do more promotion in classrooms, make materials on healthy eating available for skills class teachers, and survey students on random basis to evaluate impact.

Edward Schreyer School is a school in the Sunrise School Division, which serves a population of 726 grade 6 – 12 students. This school is entering phase two of their student leadership initiatives. The Health and Wellness Committee in cooperation with the Human Rights Group will plan and implement a breakfast program as a pilot project. The plan is to make grant applications and seek funding, investigate other breakfast programs and implement as a pilot beginning in January 2007.

Hugh John Macdonald is a school in the Winnipeg School Division with 300 students grade 7-9. The School Nutrition Action Committee consisting of Life Skills program staff, Administration, Student Council Representatives, Breakfast Program staff and Educational Assistants will lead the project. The plan involves the promotion of healthy foods by installing a bulletin board and menu board and creating posters, improve efficiency with new equipment, paint the cafeteria, survey students and do fundraising.

John Taylor Collegiate is a grade 9 – 12 school in the St. James School Division. The SNAC at John Taylor, consisting of two Human Ecology teachers, 2-4 students, and the educational assistant running the canteen, are using the Manitoba School Nutrition Handbook to guide their plan for changing the canteen. The plan is to determine a new menu based on the guidelines, and promote the new menu and healthy foods.

Ralph Brown School is a school in the Winnipeg School Division, which covers nursery to grade 8. Students, school staff, and the lunch program coordinator are pulling together the activities for their “Nutrition Mission”. The plan is to purchase equipment to make it possible to serve fresh items such as salads, yogurt smoothies, fruit, vegetables and dip, have students design a logo and promotional items for “Nutrition Mission”, gain support for the initiative from local businesses and involve the whole school in the initiative.

West St. Paul is a school in the Seven Oaks School Division, which covers kindergarten to grade 8. The student initiative involves creating a less rushed environment which is safe for students with food allergies and which promotes healthy eating. The plan is to evaluate options for “peanut free” nutritional snacks in the canteen, eliminate the less nutrition choices for healthy items, buy in bulk to decrease costs, extend the portion of the lunch hour in the canteen to promote a slower atmosphere, purchase 4 microwaves to reduce waiting time and encourage students to bring a variety of foods for lunch, promote a clean environment – waterless hand cleaning solution in all classrooms for trial period, offer healthy beverages in vending machines, create ‘nut free zone” in lunch area and educate students regarding life threatening allergies and purchase nutrition food allergy education and books and videos for library.

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Spring 2007

Cartwright School - When part of the school was closed because of mould and structural problems, elementary students took up new space in other parts of the school including high school classrooms and the canteen area. This ended the hot lunch fund-raising program. In response to that specific situation as well as the Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Task Force Report and the new Food and Nutrition Guideline, the grade eleven students along with the Parent Advisory Council, are initiating a healthy snack program and re-introducing the milk program. At the request of the students, milk will be purchased in 4 litre jugs instead of the individual cartons. Some equipment will be purchased for food storage, including two plug-in portable coolers. While the Food Nutrition Group will handle the healthy snack program, the grade eleven consumer class will manage the financial details, and see that all food preparation and serving standards are met.

Ecole Belmont is a K – 5 school with 220 students. In a plan developed by the Belmont School Nutrition Committee, students in grade four will take part in a cross-curricular project involving Math, Science and French. The focus will be on four special event days, each representing on food group. Teams of students will research the different food groups, survey other students in the school, document and post results, create presentations for other students, and prepare and serve the food on event day. The goal of the project is to increase student awareness of healthier foods and the ownership of good food choices.

Henry G. Izatt Middle School has a population of 670 students. Students on the Nutrition Team, with help from the school staff and canteen workers, plan to provide healthy food choices which students actually like and will purchase. One of the first items on the plan is to survey students to determine which healthy snacks are preferred. Ideas for change include selling juice boxes instead of the larger bottles of juice which students do not have time to finish during lunch hour, and making pre-packaged sandwiches and yogurt available for purchase to the many students who do not have lunch with them. Plans for promoting the project include posters, public announcements and encouragement by canteen workers.

Many Faces Education Centre is an alternative education centre with 75 students in grades 9 – 12. This particular project focuses on the need for equipment to make it possible to offer healthier food choices. Vending machines are no longer present. Instead milk, water, and 10% juices are offered to students. Chocolate bars and chips have been replace by a variety of healthier snacks. These all require storage. A large fridge and storage containers would make it possible to store larger amounts of the healthier foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables.

Margaret Barbour Collegiate serves students in grades 9 – 12. The Margaret Barbour Collegiate healthy Living Group, consisting of 15 students, grades 9 – 12, and 3 counsellors, have organized several projects including In Motion Fall 06, AFM Brown Bag Project, and the Healthy Breakfast/healthy Activity Week. To continue improving food choices for the students, the Group plans to replace the cafeteria deep fryer with a convection oven. In this way they will be able to reduce the saturated and trans fat typically present in cafeteria food. Cafeteria personnel, the Student Council and the Parent Advisory Council are all on board with the goal and the fundraising plan. The Group will promote the project through posters, taste trials, health classes and presentations by the students.

Radisson School - The SNAC ATTACK in motion group for this K – grade 5 school, has an ambitious plan featuring several components. Fuel 4 Fun involves free passes for activities in the gym one day of the week over the lunch hour for students spotted eating fruits or vegetables. Balance Body Bingo is a lunch hour activity featuring healthy eating and activity. The class which succeeds in filling a row wins a free gym lunch hour and perhaps some equipment for the whole class. Another idea focuses on catching students eating right and awarding prizes which are presented at assemblies. Other ideas include free food handouts, surveys, and promotional activities such as establishing a nutrition corner.

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Fall 2007

Arborg Early Middle Years School - Serving 330 grade 5 – 8 students, the school presently operates a canteen twice weekly as well as offering a limited breakfast program of fruit and muffins.  Occasionally the life-skills program students sell a variety of healthy foods.  There are no other food services.  The Arborg Committee has identified the need to provide students with cooked healthy choices more often as a goal and in order to accomplish that they will need the proper facilities and equipment required in food preparation, food safety training as well as staff and volunteer time.  Some of the ideas for healthy choices include taco salad. Baked potatoes, healthy pizza, homemade soup, and chili on a bun. 

Gimli High School - This High School has been working hard to improve the nutrition environment through their changes made to the cafeteria, vending choices and fundraising items.  They also provide a breakfast program which is available all day.  The main goal of the project identified by the Gimli Committee, is to make healthy foods more popular.  Steps towards accomplishing that goal include surveys, taste testing, a recipe competition, newsletter articles, PD, and a video production. 

La Verendrye School,  Portage la Prairie - 400 students attend this K – 8 school.  Changes have already been made to offer steps to offer more nutritious options in the canteen.  The canteen supervisor is an important piece in being able to offer healthy choices.  Another piece is the team of grade 6 – 8 students called Boosters, whose mission is “to provide a positive school experience for all students of La Verendrye School.”  The Boosters have begun a program which provides a healthy snack for all students.  The SLA will allow them to continue with the program. 

Minnetonka School, Winnipeg - Minnetonka School has a very active population of 251 K – 9 students.  A canteen staffed by student volunteers and teachers, provides lunch item supplements every day.  This school has also focused on offering and promoting healthier choices. The goal of the project presented by the Minnetonka Team  builds on the changes already made to make available the healthy options not only at lunch hours but also at extra curricular and community based events.  The Award will be used to further promote the project through building strategic partnerships, creating promotional materials, surveying students and purchasing some of the healthy options.

Ste. Marie School, Bruxelles - Ste. Marie School has 35 students attending K – 8.  The school has taken several steps to promoting nutrition education and healthy choices in this last year including having students develop a healthy snack policy.  According to the data collected, healthy snack choices increased by 23% with 92% of the students choosing healthy snacks.  Parent volunteers are now coming in to prepare healthier choices instead of the twice/month hotdog lunches.  The SLA  will support the Student Council in offering  a lunch for students which offers nutritious but fun foods for students when the parent run hot lunch program is not available.  This would be an opportunity to promote nutritious eating, with the whole student and staff body being invited to participate. 

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Spring 2008

Westmount School, Swan Lake - Westmount School is a K – 12 school located in Swan Lake (Prairie Rose School Division) and has an enrolment of 170 students. The school would like to see the students be more concerned about their own health and to care more about what they are putting into their bodies.  The school plans to form a “Peer Power” committee with the school principal, the local Family Resource Centre and the local Recreation District. The committee will establish the criteria of a “healthy hero”. Students encourage each other to meet the criteria in the hope of being nominated as the “healthy hero” of the month.  Students are not looking for perfection but rather for change and increased interest. The “healthy hero” receives awards and a school t-shirt. Parents will be notified of child’s success and invited to a special celebratory evening of healthy food and fun. The project will be promoted through posters in the school, announcements, newsletters, and input from the community organizations.

Pilot Mound Collegiate, Pilot Mound - Pilot Mound Collegiate serves 110 students from the communities of Clearwater, Crystal City, Glenora, Mather, Snowflake, and Pilot Mound.  For their student leadership initiative, the Rock Lake Healthy Community Committee has chosen to implement a multi-faceted canteen project.  The overall goal is to develop policy and management that would ensure food safety and healthy food choices.  In order to market and promote nutritional food choices, the Committee plans to implement the following:

  • A water cooler promotion contest
  • Increase milk availability
  • Increase availability of fruit and vegetables
  • Start a breakfast program
  • Have a “Healthy Eating Day”
  • Wall scoreboard to keep track of the progress of healthy food choices. 

Another goal is to link the canteen activities to the curriculum.  In order to do this they will be assisted by the Harvest Moon Society in Clearwater.  Various elements of healthy eating will be integrated into a variety of subjects.  The Applied Math course will conduct a survey which will help the Committee set the stage for the new activities. 

For more information about Healthy Food in Schools, please contact:

Manitoba School Nutrition Support Team
Phone:  1-888-547-0535