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Frequently Asked Questions by Parents & Volunteers

You can also contact TDSB Nutrition Liaison Officers with your questions!

What type of food will be served in my child’s nutrition program?

Based on the Student Nutrition Guidelines, developed by Toronto Public Health, your child will choose from a variety of healthy foods depending on the type of program; morning meal, snack, breakfast or lunch.

Morning Meal, 3 choices are provided:
- Vegetables or fruit
- Milk or alternatives
- Whole grain products OR protein foods

Snack, 2 choices are provided:
- Vegetables or fruit
- Whole grain products OR protein foods OR milk or alternatives

Breakfast or Lunch meals include:
- Vegetables or fruit
- protein foods (including milk) and
- Whole grain products

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

What if my child has food allergies?

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 strive to be peanut-free. Despite these efforts to reduce the risk of exposure to zero, the Board cannot ensure an allergen-free school environment. Speak to your child's teacher and school principal about your child's allergies.

Schools with a nutrition program request that parents submit an allergy/food restriction form at the beginning of the school year 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 teachers and volunteers are aware of children with allergies. The nutrition program co-ordinator will have access to allergy and food restriction information gathered by the school. She/he develops menus based on analysis of ingredient lists on food to address allergies and ensures that the food preparation area and equipment is sanitized daily according to Toronto Public Health Food Safety standards

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

The nutrition co-ordinator/volunteers prepare the menu and ensure that 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 co-ordinators receive training in food safety and nutrition every two years. A Toronto Public Health dietitian reviews menus and visits your school to ensure that your child is offered healthy food choices.

How is my child’s nutrition program funded?

Provincial and municipal annual grants cover a small portion of the program costs. Contributions from parents are necessary to make the program successful and meet funding criteria. Your 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 families’ ability to contribute financially. For information on other funding sources, contact one of our Nutrition Liaison Officers.

Why does our school need a nutrition program?

The Toronto District School Board, through its Nutrition Foundation Statement, recognizes the direct relationship between healthy nutrition and academic achievement of students. Research shows that children who eat healthy food are better able to concentrate, retain and apply information and show positive behavior in the classroom. Through nutrition programs, students are more likely to develop life-long eating habits which promote health and combat chronic diseases. Student Nutrition programs improve learning outcomes, create healthy school environments and address hunger in a non-stigmatizing way. School nutrition programs are beneficial for all students and essential for some. They are part of our schools’ plans to support student success and well-being.

How do I volunteer?

Volunteers are vital to the success of school nutrition programs. To volunteer, please speak with your school principal. The Toronto District School Board requires police reference checks for all adult volunteers who have contact with students.


Frequently Asked Questions by Volunteers

Volunteers make student nutrition programs successful. We welcome you to find out how to get involved! Volunteers can be parents, grandparents, staff, students, corporate or community members.

What will I need to do before I can volunteer in a program?

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.

What will be my duties as a volunteer?

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

Do I have to volunteer for the nutrition program at school every day?

No. Most student nutrition programs develop monthly calendars for volunteers to schedule regular or occasional shifts. Volunteers have 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 month to help with bookkeeping.

What kind of training and support for volunteers is available?

Volunteers have the option of attending a Food Safety and Nutrition workshop, offered at no cost, by Toronto Public Health. This training provides specific information about safe food storage, handling and serving in schools. For more information on workshops and training, contact one of our Nutrition Liaison Officers.

Can high school students volunteer?

Yes, we welcome secondary student volunteers. Hours volunteered with a nutrition program can contribute to community service hours required to graduate. Student volunteers are encouraged to attend Food Safety and Nutrition training offered by Toronto Public Health at no cost. Most students volunteer with the nutrition program at their home school but can also be matched up with a school nearby. Contact the Principal or one of the Nutrition Liaison Officers. TDSB does not require a police reference check for persons under the age of 18 as long as they are registered in school.

Without the dedication and commitment of thousands of volunteers, student nutrition programs would not be possible. Thanks to all of you for contributing to student success and well-being.


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