Student nutrition programs (SNPs) must prepare, store and serve food in a manner that follows the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (493/17) including the amendments that came into effect January, 2020. Toronto Public Health’s goal is to prevent foodborne illness by educating food handlers and enforcing regulations during inspections. This is especially important for student nutrition programs because children are at greater risk of foodborne illness

If your program:

  • Distributes only low-risk food and/or individually wrapped food items
    And/Or
  • Prepares and serves only low-risk food* items such as, slicing an apple or muffin in half, slicing a cucumber or individually portioning baby carrots from a larger package.
    Specific examples include:

    • Low-risk food items: whole fruits and vegetables, bread and most baked goods (with no custard).
    • Individually wrapped food items: granola bars, juice boxes, etc.
    • Ready-to-eat food items: single serve yogurt, cheese, milk.
    • Any combination of the above.

Then your site requires:

  • That food handlers wash their hands as often as necessary to prevent the contamination of food or food areas.
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage.
  • Access to a two or three compartment sink or dishwasher***. If not available, wash utensils in a separate sink from hand washing, or ensure the sink is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to dish washing. If a second or third sink is not available, a dish wash container or bin can be used for rinsing and sanitizing.
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer, if serving foods needing cold storage.

    Your site will not require:

  • A dedicated hand wash sink, but must have access to a sink to wash hands and be supplied with liquid soap and paper towels/hot air dryer.

If your program:

  • Washes, cuts and portions high-risk food** onsite.
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs).
  • Serves food and drinks using single-use cutlery, cups and plates.

Then your site requires:

  • A dedicated hand washing sink, with hot and cold running water, equipped with soap and paper towels in a dispenser.
  • A two-compartment sink (for washing and sanitizing serving and preparation utensils) or a dishwasher*** and a food preparation sink (to wash produce).
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer.
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage

If your program:

  • Washes, cuts and portions food onsite.
  • Uses multi-use serving and preparation utensils (knives, cutting boards, serving spoons, tongs).
  • Uses multi-use cutlery, cups and plates.

Then your site requires:

  • A dedicated hand washing sink, with hot & cold running water, equipped with soap and paper towels in a dispenser.
  • A 3-compartment sink (for washing and sanitizing multiuse serving, preparation and eating utensils) or a dishwasher*** and a food preparation sink (to wash produce).
  • Adequate refrigeration with an accurate thermometer.
  • Clean, dry, pest-free storage.

*Low-risk food is food in a form or state that cannot grow micro-organisms that can cause illness (e.g., whole fruit or vegetable, single serve foods – for example; granola bars, apple sauce).

**High-risk foods are more likely to cause food-borne illness than low-risk foods. The more steps involved in preparing and serving a food increases the chances of bacteria growing in the food (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt).

***Dishwashers used in SNPs must meet the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17. Residential dishwashers that meet the NSF/ANSI 184 standard are an acceptable alternative to a commercial dishwasher in SNPs with low volume use.

For more information on food safety for your student nutrition program contact dinesafe@toronto.ca

Examples of foods that can be served when there are limited facilities

Vegetables & Fruit (Produce)

Including but not limited to:

  • Whole produce with a peel that students remove themselves:
    • banana
    • clementine
    • orange
  • Individually portioned:
    • unsweetened fruit sauce
    • fruit cup in juice or water
    • raisins/dried fruit
    • 100 per cent fruit or vegetable juice (maximum once a week)
  • Pre-washed:
    • apples, pears, plums
    • mini cucumbers
    • baby carrots
    • cherry tomatoes
    • snow/snap peas

Milk & Alternatives

Including but not limited to:

  • Individually packaged:
    • milk
    • fortified soy beverage
    • yogurt (cups, tubes)
    • kefir
    • cheese strings/sticks
    • fresh cheese cups
  • Drinks from the original container^:
    • milk
    • fortified soy beverage
    • yogurt

Grains

Including but not limited to:

  • Pre-packaged or individually portioned from a larger package^:
    • tortillas
    • bannock
    • flat bread, naan, roti, chapatti
    • bread, pita, bagels, buns, English muffins
    • melba toast and breadsticks
    • granola and cereal
    • granola bars
  • Grain products served must be:
    • 100 per cent whole wheat (WW) or Whole grain (WG)
    • cereals and baked goods should have 8 g of sugar or less per 30 g serving

Meat & Alternatives

Including but not limited to:

  • Pre-wrapped or individually portioned from larger package^:
    • boiled eggs
    • hummus
    • nuts, seeds, nut butter

For nuts and seed foods, always follow your sites’ anaphylaxis policy.

^To portion these items with limited facilities you can pour from the larger container into a single use cup or item or use a single-use serving utensil. A multi-use serving utensil cannot be used when facilities are limited.

Limited facilities menu example for a student nutrition meal program

Week 1

Monday: banana, yogurt cup, granola bar

Tuesday: unsweetened fruit sauce, milk, WW melba toast

Wednesday: raisins, cheese string, WG crackers

Thursday: clementine, fresh cheese cup, WW muffin

Friday: fruit cup in juice or water, milk, WG naan & hummus

Week 2

Monday: apple, milk carton, granola bar

Tuesday: baby carrots, cheese stick, WW pitas

Wednesday: banana, yogurt drink, WG muffin

Thursday: unsweetened fruit sauce, cheese stick, WW roti

Friday: orange, kefir, WG crackers

Week 3

Monday: mini cucumbers, cheese stick, WW bread

Tuesday: apple juice, milk, granola bar

Wednesday: green beans, fresh cheese, WW crackers

Thursday: fruit cup in juice or water, kefir, WW bannock

Friday: baby carrots, yogurt drink, hummus

 

Based on the 2016 Nutrition Guideline for Student Nutrition Programs. Toronto Public Health (2017)

Download this information as a PDF.

Wash, rinse and sanitize bins and trays using the steps below:

  1. Wash the inside (bottom and sides) and lids of the bins and trays with warm soapy water.
  2. Rinse the bins and trays with water.
  3. Make a bleach sanitizing solution: Measure 1 litre of water and add ½ tsp of ordinary household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite*). Mix well and test solution.** Wear protective equipment such as: eye googles, gloves and apron when making the bleach sanitizing solution.
  4. Use a spray bottle to spray the sanitizing solution inside and outside of the bins and trays.
  5. Allow the bins and trays to air dry.
  • Repeat these steps before and after each use and when visibly dirty.
  • If a bin or tray is in a hall or classroom where many people can touch it over a period of a day or week, the exterior surface should be cleaned and sanitized every day.
  • Most Toronto school boards approve of the use of bleach in food preparation areas.  When in doubt, check with your school board.
  • Mix bleach with water only.

Using Bins and Trays

  • Food must be protected from contamination. If exposed/unwrapped food is present, a cover is required. A container lid, food grade plastic wrap or foil is suitable, where necessary.
  • If the food inside the bin or tray is already wrapped, a cover is not required.
  • Bins and trays must have smooth surfaces that allow for easy cleaning.
  • Cracked or scratched bins and trays must be discarded; they cannot be properly washed and sanitized.
  • Store bins and trays off the floor and protect them from contamination.
  • Depending on the food items (e.g. loose apples), the use of trays is preferred over bins to allow for easier selection of food by students and to minimize hand contact.
  • Separate food items within the bins or trays using reusable plastic containers or disposable items, such as plastic bags.
  • You may use cooler bags with ice packs for cold items such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Wash and sanitize cooler bags and multiple-use plastic containers before and after each use and when visibly dirty.

* Visit Public Health Ontario’s online dilution calculator to determine if your solution has the correct ratio of bleach based on the standard 5.25% Sodium hypochlorite

**Chlorine test strips can be used to check the strength of bleach solutions

Download this information as a PDF.

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for student nutrition programs.