What is the First Nation Student Nutrition Program in Ontario?

Over 145 sites are part of the program, serving 63 First Nations and 27 urban centers. It provides healthy meals and snacks to Indigenous students in Ontario’s schools. The goal is to help students learn and develop well by offering them nutritious food.

It’s open to all students in these schools, but it’s mainly focused on helping First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. The program gets its funds from the Ontario government, local donations, and partnerships with the community. This support is changing the lives of many Indigenous young people in the area.

Introduction to the First Nation Student Nutrition Program

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program is a part of the broader Ontario Student Nutrition Program. It provides healthy food to children and teens at schools. These foods include breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The goal is simple: to help Indigenous students learn better and grow healthy by offering them nutritious meals and snacks. The program is run by First Nations and funded by 35 groups, including Band Councils and community organizations.

Overview of the Program’s Goals

This program aims to boost the learning and health of Indigenous students in Ontario. By giving them healthy meals and snacks, it tackles the issue of not having enough to eat. This ensures that these students get the nutrition they need to do well in school.

Importance of Providing Nutritious Meals for Students

Studies show that hungry students can’t learn well or focus. That’s why serving nutritious food helps students get ready to learn. It also boosts their health and happiness. By understanding how essential good food is for the growth of Indigenous children, the program makes a big difference in their lives.

Program Eligibility and Access

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program is available to all students in participating areas across Ontario. It mainly serves Indigenous communities. This program makes sure that everyone at a school or site gets free meals and snacks. It doesn’t matter how much money their family makes or their background. This way, no one feels left out.

Universal Accessibility for All Students

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program is designed to help all kids in its area get healthy meals and snacks. This model breaks down any barriers, making sure every Indigenous student can join in. It doesn’t matter where they come from or how much money their family has.

Student Nutrition Program Guidelines

The Student Nutrition Program guidelines ensure meals are healthy and balanced for students. They require each meal to have three food groups. There must be vegetables or fruit, and milk or an alternative, in every meal.

Meal Requirements

Sites should look to Canada’s Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis for menu guidance. This guide helps with choosing healthy foods and portion sizes for Indigenous communities. It helps programs meet nutritional needs effectively.

Food Safety Standards

The Program also sets food safety rules. These ensure meals are safe to eat and keep students healthy. Sites must handle, store, and prepare food properly.

Key Student Nutrition Program Guidelines


Meal Composition

Meals must include at least three out of the four food groups, with one serving of vegetables/fruit and one serving of milk/milk alternative.

Menu Planning Resources

Programs are encouraged to use Canada’s Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to plan nutritious menus.

Food Safety Practices

Sites must follow strict food handling, storage, and preparation procedures to ensure meal safety.

Following these guidelines ensures students get healthy meals that help with learning and wellbeing. The First Nation Student Nutrition Program is committed to this.

Making Nutritious Program Menus

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program uses Canada’s Food Guide as a key tool. It’s tailored for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It suggests what foods to choose and how much. This helps design menus that meet cultural and nutritional needs.

Incorporating Traditional Foods

The program encourages adding traditional Indigenous foods to the menus. This can be wild game, fish, berries, or locally grown items. Using these foods not only boosts nutrition but also honors Indigenous food heritage.

Sample Menu Template

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services offers a menu template. It’s for First Nation Student Nutrition Program spots. It helps list food categories and serving sizes. This ensures the meals are nutritionally balanced.

Planning and Shopping for Program Food

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program suggests planning menus a week ahead. This lets sites check their supplies, create a solid shopping list, and grab deals on bulk items.

Advance Menu Planning

First Nation Student Nutrition Program sites are wise to plan menus early. This helps them manage their food stock, save money, and have all ingredients ready. It ensures they can cook healthy meals and snacks for the kids.

Shopping Strategies for Large Groups

Shopping for many students requires skill. The program advises making a clear list, being open to sales, and buying in bulk. These steps stretch the food budget further.

Food Item

Quantity Needed for 100 Students


6 kg


7.8 kg


7.8 kg

Baby Carrots

7 kg

Celery Sticks

6.6 kg


9 kg


9 kg

Romaine Lettuce

6 kg

Bell Peppers

6.4 kg

Canned Pineapple Chunks

36 kg

Fresh Strawberries

9 kg

This table shows how much fruit and veg you’d need for 100 kids in the program. With early planning, these program sites make sure they have enough to make healthy meals for everyone.

Food Safety Practices

Keeping food safe is key for the First Nation Student Nutrition Program. Sites in the program must carefully handle, store, and prepare food. This keeps students healthy while ensuring meals are safe and full of nutrition.

This program gives clear rules on food safety. It makes sure schools handle food well. Guidelines include steps like washing hands, keeping things clean, checking food temperature, and managing risky foods.

Food Safety Requirement



Before touching any food, you must wash your hands. There should be sinks with running hot and cold water, plus soap, where food is prepared.

Food Sourcing

All food in the program must come from safe sources. This includes places like grocery stores and restaurants that are checked for safety.

Food Handling and Preparation

Sites must keep areas where they cook or prepare food clean to stop germs. There are also rules about fridge (less than 4°C) and freezer (less than -18°C) temperatures to keep food fresh.

Approved Sanitizers

Chlorine bleach, iodine, or another sanitizer the program okays help wash dishes. This keeps harmful germs off the dishes, preventing sickness.

Food Handler Training

If a place serves risky food, someone must know how to handle it safely. But if the foods are not very risky or are pre-packaged, special training is not needed.

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Making sure food is handled well is really important. The First Nation Student Nutrition Program does this for all its meals in Ontario. Because of these steps, the food is safe, healthy, and helps the Indigenous youth’s health.

Opening a New Student Nutrition Program

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program helps start new ones in Indigenous areas across Ontario. It supports creating breakfast, mid-morning, and lunch programs. This initiative offers advice and resources for starting and running these programs.

Common Program Models

The program suggests many ways to serve local needs. Popular options are:

  • Breakfast programs for a healthy morning start
  • Mid-morning meal programs for snacks or light meals
  • Lunch programs for a balanced, nutritious meal at midday

The goal is simple: making sure students get the nutrition they need. This is crucial for their learning and health. The First Nation Student Nutrition Program helps new sites with everything they need to run these programs smoothly.

Roles and Responsibilities of Program Staff and Volunteers

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program gets help from many in the community. There are school leaders, teachers, parents, Elders, and others. They all have important parts to play.

Menu planning is a big part of what they do. The staff come together to make menus that are good for students. These menus follow guidelines and include foods from Indigenous traditions. They also make sure the meals are prepared and served safely.

Volunteer Role

Time Commitment

Student Nutrition Program Coordinator

Approximately 5 hours per week

Student Nutrition Program Server

Average shift of 1 hour

Student Nutrition Program Shopper

Approximately 2 hours per week

Communications Volunteer

About 1 hour per week from September to June

Fundraising Volunteer

Around 2 hours per week

Volunteers are a must for the First Nation Student Nutrition Program. They help in many ways, like serving meals and fund-raising. They are given clear tasks to make everything run smoothly.

Student Nutrition Program Funding Sources

The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services helps fund the First Nation Student Nutrition Program. This support includes money for food, travel, and cultural activities. New program sites can also get a boost from start-up grants.

Local Fundraising Initiatives

Besides government support, the program depends on local fundraising. Sites use donations, sponsorships, and events to add to their funds. This extra money helps the program grow and continue its work.

Healthy Students Brighter Ontario Campaign

A campaign called Healthy Students Brighter Ontario supports nutrition programs across the province. It’s a team effort involving the government and local groups. So far, $1.67 million has been raised to encourage more people to help with money or time.

Ministry of Children and Youth Services Program Partners

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program works with 35 partner groups. These include Band Councils and other community organizations. They get funding from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. They make sure the program runs well, offering advice and help at the local level.

These partnerships are key to the program’s success. They help local leaders use their own community strengths. This way, the program can smoothly provide healthy meals to Indigenous students at over 145 sites.

There are 14 lead agencies and 35 partners working together. They do many important jobs together for the program. This includes planning meals, buying food, and getting volunteers. They also help find other funding. Their work keeps the program running and growing.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has helped partners raise over $1.67 million. This money goes to support the First Nation Student Nutrition Program and helps students in Ontario. The partnership is successful. It expands the program, offering more Indigenous students healthy food they need to succeed at school.

Additional Resources for Student Nutrition Programs

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program in Ontario offers many helpful resources. These include the Student Nutrition Program Nutrition Guidelines. They were created by health experts to aid sites across the province.

Program sites can also find details on using Canada’s Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This guide helps to create menus suitable for Indigenous groups’ needs. It suggests ways to include traditional foods in daily meals, supporting Indigenous food culture.

To get one-on-one help, sites can reach out to registered dietitians via EatRight Ontario. These professionals provide tips and guidelines for planning nutritious meals for students.

Online Learning Modules

Certification Courses

  • Introduction to Student Nutrition Program Nutrition Guidelines
  • Food and Beverage Choice Tables
  • Menu Planning and Shopping
  • Safe Food Handling Training (5-year certificate)
  • Basic Safe Food Handling by Toronto Public Health (2-year certificate)
  • Nutrition Guidelines for Student Nutrition Programs (4 modules, quiz, and certificate)

To keep updated with program resources, contact your local health unit. Or, visit Student Nutrition Ontario’s website for more info.

The Student Nutrition Program Impact

The First Nation Student Nutrition Program helps Indigenous students by providing them with healthy meals and snacks. This support aims to improve their learning and overall health. Studies show that eating well helps students focus better, do well in school, and be healthier.

This program fights against food insecurity and encourages healthy eating. As a result, it boosts the well-being and success of Indigenous young people. These efforts extend to their families and communities.

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Total proposed combined allocations to the Angel Foundation for Learning and the Toronto Foundation for Student Success for 2022 Student Nutrition Program service subsidies


Amount held in reserve for appeals/late applications


Approved 2022 Operating Budget for Toronto Public Health includes funding for student nutrition programs


Allocated for nutritious food for existing programs at 606 school communities across Toronto


Additional allocation for capacity building and assessment for eligible independent schools at 10 school communities in Toronto


2022 municipal funding reaches 606 school communities serving 217,167 participants

Independent school expansion program involves 10 independent schools reaching 2,211 participants

Angel Foundation for Learning receives for existing programs


Toronto Foundation for Student Success receives for existing programs


Toronto Foundation for Student Success holds in reserve for late applications and appeals for existing programs


Toronto Foundation for Student Success receives for independent school expansion, with additional funds allocated for community capacity building and assessment


Studies from Canada show a positive link between eating breakfast and better school performance for students in middle and high school (Sampasa-Kanyinga & Hamilton, 2017). School meals also help decrease the gap in fruit and vegetable intake among kids from different economic backgrounds (Ahmadi et al., 2014).


The First Nation Student Nutrition Program in Ontario is crucial. It gives healthy meals and snacks to Indigenous students at school and in the community. This program helps students learn better, grow healthy, and keeps their food traditions alive.

It’s funded by the government, local events, and community support. This backing lets the program help even more Indigenous kids in the province. The program’s success comes from teamwork between the Ontario government, First Nations groups, and local programs.

As the program gets bigger and better, it will keep being important for Indigenous students. It shows how working together can make a real difference for youth. This approach values the needs and culture of Indigenous students, leading to positive changes.

The program will work hard to keep providing healthy food and teaching about Indigenous dishes. It aims to create a better learning place for students to do well in school. The First Nation Student Nutrition Program changes the lives of Indigenous youth in a big way.

FAQ Section


What is the First Nation Student Nutrition Program?

This program is in Ontario, Canada. It gives healthy meals and snacks to Indigenous students. Its goal is to help these students learn and grow healthily.

Who can participate in the First Nation Student Nutrition Program?

It’s for all students in enrolled schools across Ontario, with a focus on Indigenous communities. Everyone can get the free meals, no matter their income or background.

What are the nutritional requirements for the meals served in the program?

Meals need to have three food groups, including fruits or vegetables and milk. Sites often follow Canada’s special food guide for planning.

How do program sites ensure food safety?

Sites must follow tight food safety rules, like proper handling and storage. This keeps students healthy and ensures meals are safe and good.

What types of student nutrition program models are available?

The program offers breakfast, mid-morning meal, and lunch options. It also helps new sites start and follow its standards.

How is the First Nation Student Nutrition Program funded?

Funding comes from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. It covers food, transport, and cultural activities. The ministry gives start-up grants too. Also, local fundraising helps keep the program going.

How does the First Nation Student Nutrition Program impact students?

It combats food uncertainty and encourages good eating, helping Indigenous youth thrive. Studies show well-fed students do better in school.

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