Tips for Special Events

Tip 1: Question whether food is needed

Food brings people together at special events, but all too often food is served when it really isn’t needed. Before deciding what to serve at your next event, take a moment to think about whether food is needed at all. Ask yourself:

  • Does the event take place over a meal time? – If so, food is appropriate
  • When did individuals last eat? – If recently, then food should not be served since it can encourage people to eat outside of regular meal or snack times

Tip 2: Menus should be safe, inclusive, tasty and nutritious

Children as well as adults enjoy food that looks appealing and tastes good! And of course, schools should offer nutritious foods to students and the school community. A wholesome meal or snack would be prepared with little added salt, sugar and fat and not come from a box.


  • Nutritious food and beverages (e.g. vegetables, hummus for dipping, fruit, whole grain bread/crackers, cheese, plain yogurt, white milk, etc.)
  • Foods that are inclusive and reflective of the faiths and cultures of the students, staff and their families
  • Water (ask participants to bring refillable water bottles)


  • Sugary drinks (e.g. pop, fruit juice/punch/cocktail, chocolate milk, slushies, etc.)
  • Processed meats (e.g. hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, bacon, etc.)
  • Sweet desserts (e.g. cookies, chocolate, candy, etc.)

Be sure to practice safe food handling and adhere to the school’s anaphylaxis policy.

Tip 3: Work with food providers to make the menu better

Talk to caterers in your community and find out what they can offer. Schools have had success in the past with caterers:

  • Replacing juice and sweet desserts with fruit and yogurt
  • Adding fresh trays of fruits and veggies
  • Adding veggies to the meal (e.g. veggie trays, salads)

If not using a caterer, talk to volunteers involved in putting the event together. Suggest easy alternatives and simple swaps to improve the menu without much extra work.

Tip 4: Make eating a sit down affair

Provide chairs and tables to allow participants to enjoy a meal together, with enough time to eat and talk rather than eating on the go.