This page supports schools and educators with tips and resources to plan and deliver school food programs that meet the unique needs of their local communities.
School food programs can improve access to nutritious foods at school, build food skills, and connect students to their local food systems. Research shows that providing positive exposures to growing, preparing, and eating food improves food literacy and has a lasting impact on physical and mental health.
A food-based program can start small, with simple activities that allow students to explore and experience food inside or outside the classroom. If possible, consider how your program can be integrated through cross-curricular connections and a school-wide approach.
Have questions? Contact a Population Health dietitian at PopHthNutrition@NorthernHealth.ca.
Interested in starting a food-based program at your school? Here are a food questions to consider when building your school food program:
- Why is this program a good fit for our school?
- How can we provide students with engaging food experiences (rather than a focus on nutrition information)?
- What links can we make with activities in the classroom, garden, kitchen or community?
- How can we improve access to healthy foods at school?
- In what ways can we honour the social, traditional and cultural values of harvesting, preparing, and eating food?
- What opportunities exist to partner with local farmers, food distributors, or community members to bring local food and knowledge into our school?
- How can we ensure proper food safety and hand washing protocols are routine part of any food program or food-based activity?
- How can we ensure this program continues in the future or evolves to meet changing needs?
The following programs are examples of provincial or regional food-based programs and resources available to schools in BC and/or the Northern Health region.
- BC School Fruit and Vegetables Nutritional Program and + Milk – BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC)
- Breakfast program: Apply for support – Breakfast Club of Canada
- Farm to School BC – Public Health Association of BC (PHABC)
- Hands on Food - Farm to School BC, Public Health Association of BC, Interior Health and School District 73
- Harvest Bin Project – BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC)
- Salad Bar Kit Loan Program (PDF) – Northern Health
- Spuds in Tubs – BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC)
School food programs: Ideas and tools
- Explore local Indigenous plants and teachings using the learning from the land toolkit and lessons.
- Host a cooking class or food demo. Find simple, kid-friendly recipes at Hands on Food.
- Offer a breakfast program at your school with support from the Breakfast Club of Canada.
- Provide hands-on experiences with food through the Farm to School BC Program or other local food to school activities.
- Sign up for the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program and +Milk to get local fruit, vegetables and milk delivered to your school. Use the “Fresh Story” curricular-linked activities to explore these foods in your classroom.
- Start a school food garden, or start small, and grow a potato tub or a windowsill garden.
- Take students outside for local food harvesting or a land-based plant walk. Or, visit a local garden, smokehouse or farm.
- Try a salad bar at your school. Salad bar kits are available for loan from Northern Health.
Read about Northern BC programs
- Bee-ing flexible: School pollinator program engages students at home - Northern Health Stories
- Local food to school: Reconnecting the children of Haida Gwaii to their food and their land (video) - Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC)
- Serving up healthy school lunches, salad bar style - Northern Health Stories
- The kitchen at Parkside Secondary School: More than a place to cook - Northern Health Stories