Tips For Menu Makeovers

While all food and beverages sold to students in schools are required to comply with the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (PPM 150) there are some additional considerations to help ensure the school’s catered lunches are healthy.

Tip 1: Menus (for students) must comply with the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (PPM 150)

All food sold to students at school must meet specific nutrition standards in the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (PPM 150).

When using restaurants and caterers from the community, ask if they are aware of PPM 150 and if the menu options they offer for schools meets the guidelines. Be specific and ask ‘how’ the guidelines are met. If they need help understanding the guidelines, you can suggest that they contact a Registered Dietitian (RD). A school can also request that the caterer provide a yearly letter of compliance signed by a Registered Dietitian. Some public health units have dietitians that offer this service.

Given that menus change, it is a good idea to compare the items the school is offering against standards in PPM 150 on a yearly basis.

Tip 2: Menus should promote healthy eating

PPM 150 does not address all aspects of healthy eating. To be sure you are offering the healthiest choices, check to see if the food and meal combinations meet the following:

〈 A serving of vegetables and/or fruit is offered with every entrée choice or meal combination. This serving should not be juice.

〈 Entrée choices and meal combinations includes at least 3 of the 4 food groups in  Canada’s Food Guide

〈 Processed meats (e.g. hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, bacon) are not offered

〈 Meal combinations do not include a ‘bakery treat’ or ‘dessert’ type food (e.g. cookies, chocolate, candy, flavoured ice pops)

Tip 3: Ask for changes to be made to the menu

If you cannot check off all the boxes above, work with your caterer to make some improvements to the menu offered at your school. Some examples of requests schools have made in the past include:

  • Adding vegetables (e.g. cooked or cold carrots, cucumber slices)
  • Replacing juice and sweet desserts from meal combinations with fruit and yogurt (plain)
  • Removing all hot dogs, sausages and bacon from the menu
  • Replacing refined grain products with whole grain or whole wheat products