The Student Nutrition Program Nutrition Guidelines are established by the province. To ensure that students have access to nutritious food during the school day, plan a menu cycle that offers a variety of healthy food choices suitable to the cultures of your community. Use the Nutrition Guidelines Summary for Student Nutrition Programs and sample menus as planning tools.

The Nutrition Guideline Summary for Student Nutrition Programs developed by Toronto Public Health provides highlights of the key messages, a list of foods to serve or not serve, and quick tips on label reading, to volunteer coordinators, other volunteers and staff at Student Nutrition Programs.

There are two types of student nutrition programs – meals and snacks.

A Meal at a Student Nutrition Program (Breakfast, Morning Meal, Lunch) includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food, plus
  • One whole grain food

Example of a Meal:

  • Cucumber slices (Vegetables and Fruits)
  • Cheese slices (Protein Foods)
  • Whole wheat bread (Whole Grain Foods)

A Snack at a Student Nutrition Program includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food or one whole grain food

Example of a Snack:

  • Banana (Vegetables and Fruits)
  • Milk (Protein Foods)

Important Principles to Follow at Student Nutrition Programs

  • Offer a variety of vegetables, fruits, protein foods and whole grain foods.
  • Offer tap water at every meal or snack.
  • Limit highly processed foods. This means offering fewer pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods when possible.
  • Practice safe food handling.
  • Follow your school or centre’s Allergy and Anaphylaxis Policy.
  • At least one person is on-site when the program is running who has completed a Food Safety and Nutrition Training for student nutrition programs within the last 2 years.
  • Offer a pleasant eating environment, where children and youth are encouraged to listen to their hunger and fullness cues.
  • Adjust the amount of food offered as needed. Where possible, offer larger portions of vegetables and fruit over other food categories.

Vegetables and Fruit

Serve vegetables and/or fruits at every meal and snack.

Examples of foods to Serve:

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit with no added sugar, salt or sauce
  • Unsweetened applesauce or fruit purées
  • Canned fruit in water or 100% juice, drained
  • Canned vegetables (drained and rinsed) and tomato sauce1
  • Dried fruit with no added sugar2

Examples of foods on the Do Not Serve list:

  • Vegetable and fruit juice, including 100% juice
  • Fruit flavoured drink, punches, cocktails
  • French fries, hash browns, instant potatoes, battered potato or vegetable
  • Vegetable and fruit chips
  • Dried fruit with sugar added
  • Canned fruit in syrup
  • Fruit flavoured candies (e.g. gummies, fruit rolls)
  • High fat cream-based vegetable soups
  • Raw sprouts, unpasteurized juice for food safety

1Choose products with less than or equal to 10% DV (daily value) sodium per serving.

2To reduce the risk of cavities, if dried fruit is offered, it should be with a meal including water and crunchy vegetables and fruit or cheddar cheese.

Whole Grains

  • Choose products with whole grain, whole wheat, or bran listed first on the ingredient list.
  • Products should have less than or equal to 8 grams of sugar per 30 g serving.
  • Products should have less than or equal to 10% DV (daily value) of sodium per serving.

Examples of foods to Serve:

Whole grain or whole wheat bread products:

  • Breads, English muffins, pitas, buns, rolls, tortilla, roti, pizza crust, flatbreads, bannock and pancakes

Whole grain grain-based snacks, baked goods, cereals, and other grains:

  • Whole grain cereals, oatmeal
  • Whole grain muffins, scones, granola bars
  • Whole grain crackers, brown rice cakes (unflavoured and unsweetened)
  • Popcorn (plain, unsalted, no butter)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, oats, couscous, brown rice)

Examples of foods on the Do Not Serve list:

Bread products:

  • Flavoured, sugar coated breads and bagels

Grain-based snacks, baked goods, cereals and other grains such as:

  • Any item with chocolate, candy, marshmallow or yogurt dip or pieces
  • Cakes, donuts, pies, squares, cookies
  • Instant noodle soup
  • Toaster pastries, pastries, croissants
  • Tortilla chips

Protein Foods

Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.

Examples of foods to Serve:

Milk, milk alternatives, and dairy:

  • Plain milk and yogurt less than or equal to 2% milk fat
  • Unsweetened/unflavoured, fortified soy beverage
  • Flavoured/sweetened yogurt with less than or equal to 11g of sugar per 100g serving and less than or equal to 2% milk fat
  • Hard cheese, cheese strings with less than or equal to 20% milk fat (when possible)¹

Plant-based protein foods:

  • Dried or canned beans, lentils (drained, rinsed)¹
  • Nuts², seeds², and nut butters²
  • Hummus¹, baked chickpeas¹, and plant-based burgers¹
  • Lentil or chickpea pasta¹

Fish, eggs and meat:

  • Eggs
  • Fresh or frozen fish, meat
  • Canned light tuna (drained, rinsed)¹
  • Canned chicken/turkey (drained, rinsed)

Examples of foods on the Do Not Serve list:

Milk, milk alternatives, and dairy:

  • 3.25% cow’s milk, unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Flavoured milk (e.g. chocolate, strawberry)
  • Hot chocolate, milkshakes, cream
  • Flavoured/sweetened plant-based drinks
  • Drinkable yogurt
  • Cheese with more than 10% DV sodium per serving
  • Processed cheese slices

Plant-based protein foods:

  • Salted, candied or coated nuts² or seeds²
  • Tofu dessert

Fish, eggs and meat:

  • Canned albacore tuna
  • Meat pies
  • Bacon, hot dogs, deli meats
  • Pre-frozen breaded products

¹Choose products with less than or equal to 10% DV (daily value) sodium per serving.

²For nut and seed foods: always follow your school or centre’s Allergy and Anaphylaxis Policy.

Minor Ingredients

May be served in small amounts (approximately 1-2 tbsp./student unless otherwise noted)

  • Condiments e.g. ketchup, cream cheese, mustard, 3 tbsp. salsa
  • Gravies and sauces
  • Dips e.g. salad dressings, sour cream, baba ganoush, and 3 tbsp. spinach dip
  • Oils, mayonnaise e.g. butter, non-hydrogenated margarine Toppings and extras e.g. 4-5 olives, 2-3 tbsp. parmesan cheese, and one pickle
  • Sweets and spreads e.g. honey, jam, jelly, fruit butter, syrup

Do Not Serve – Miscellaneous

These products contain few or no essential nutrients, and/or contain high amounts of salt, sugar, or unhealthy fats.

  • Caffeinated food and beverages such as coffee, tea, and iced tea
  • Diet pop, regular pop, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavoured or vitamin water
  • Protein or meal replacement drinks and bars
  • Candy, chocolate, marshmallows, jelly desserts, pudding, frozen treats (e.g. ice cream, frozen yogurt, slushies, frozen juice snacks)
  • Hard margarine, lard or shortening, palm oil, foods with artificial trans fat
  • Foods with sugar substitutes or sweeteners

Use the Nutrition Labels to Choose Products

Most packaged foods and beverages have a food label. This information is needed to determine if a food or beverage can be served at Student Nutrition Programs (SNP). Some things you need to know:

  • Information in the nutrition facts table is based on a quantity called serving size. It may or may not be the amount of food that you choose to serve in your SNP.
  • The % DV (daily value) shows how much (or how little) of a nutrient is in a food or beverage. 5% DV or less means there is a little of a nutrient and 15% DV or more means there is a lot.
  • Look for foods and beverages with less than or equal to 10% DV (daily value) of sodium to serve in your SNP.
  • Look for whole grain products with less than or equal to 8 grams of sugar per 30 gram serving.
  • Look for flavoured yogurts with less than or equal to 11 grams of sugar per 100 gram serving.
  • The ingredient list shows all the ingredients in a packaged food in order of weight, starting with the ingredient that weighs the most.

References and Additional Resources

  • Adapted with permission from Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. (2020). Student Nutrition Program Nutrition Guidelines, 2020. Queens Printer for Ontario.
  • Health Canada. (2020). Canada’s Food Guide. Government of Canada.
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Please email your questions to snp@toronto.ca.

 

Student Nutrition Program sample menus can guide programs which prepare food on-site or do not prepare food on-site, depending on the type of food preparation facilities they have available.

Refer to the Nutrition Guideline Summary for Student Nutrition Programs or email snp@toronto.ca for help with menu planning and to ensure food products meet the criteria. For help with food safety and level of food preparation that can be safely done at your site, email dinesafe@toronto.ca.

Snacks Menus

1. Snack SAMPLE menu (On-site food preparation)

  • Designed for student nutrition programs with the required food preparation facilities and volunteers/staff to prepare foods.
  • If items are individually wrapped, they can be bought in single serving containers or they can be individually portioned on-site.
  • These menus are suitable for a grab and go and/or bin/tray style service.

A healthy Student Nutrition Program snack includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food or one whole grain food
Always have tap water available.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1
  • Sliced pears
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cucumber slices
  • Hard cooked egg
  • Apple
  • Milk
  • Spinach salad with grated carrot
  • Canned light tuna
  • Banana
  • Milk
Week 2
  • Fruit salad
  • WW pita wedge
  • Broccoli florets
  • Cheese cubes
  • Seasonal fruit
  • WG granola bar
  • Spinach salad with grated carrot
  • Canned light tuna
  • Banana
  • Milk
Week 3
  • Fruit salad
  • WW pita wedge
  • Apple
  • Milk
  • Seasonal fruit
  • WG granola bar
  • Carrot & celery sticks
  • Bean dip
  • Bell pepper strips
  • WG bagel
WG-Whole Grain, WW-Whole Wheat

Table alternate text:

This table lists a three week selection of food choices to use as snacks for Student Nutrition Program operating in facilities that have On-site food preparation. If you require more information and/or clarifications, please email snp@toronto.ca.

2. Snack SAMPLE Menus (NO on-site food preparation and no refrigeration)

  • Designed for student nutrition programs with limited food preparation facilities and/or limited volunteers/staff to prepare foods.
  • To portion these items when facilities are limited you can pour from a larger container into a single use serving utensil e.g. cup, bowl or plate. Multi-use serving utensils (for e.g. reusable serving spoon) cannot be used when facilities are limited.
  • If items are individually wrapped, they can be bought in single serving containers or they can be individually portioned on-site.
  • These menus are suitable for a grab and go and/or bin/tray style service.

A healthy Student Nutrition Program snack includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food or one whole grain food
Always have tap water available.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1
  • Pear
  • WW melba toast
  • Banana
  • WG crackers
  • Clementine
  • WW bagel
  • Apple sauce
  • WW carrot muffin
  • Orange
  • WG granola bar
Week 2
  • Fruit salad cup
  • WW pita wedge
  • Clementine
  • WW muffin
  • Apple
  • WG granola bar
  • Apple sauce
  • WG cereal
  • Banana
  • WW crackers
Week 3
  • Orange
  • WG bread sticks
  • Apple
  • WG cereal
  • Fruit sauce
  • WG granola bar
  • Pear
  • WW muffin
  • Orange
  • Brown rice cakes
WG-Whole Grain, WW-Whole Wheat

Table alternate text:

This table lists a three week selection of food choices to use as snacks for Student Nutrition Program operating in facilities that have NO on-site food preparation. If you require more information and/or clarifications, please email snp@toronto.ca

Morning Meal Sample Menus

1. Morning Meal SAMPLE Menus (On-site food preparation)

  • Designed for student nutrition programs with the required food preparation facilities and volunteers/staff to prepare foods.
  • If items are individually wrapped, they can be bought in single serving containers or they can be individually portioned on-site.
  • These menus are suitable for a grab and go and/or bin/tray style service.

A healthy Student Nutrition Program meal includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food, plus
  • One whole grain food
Always have tap water available.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1
  • Parfait (mixed berries, WG granola, yogurt)
  • Grapes
  • WG cereal
  • Milk
  • Veggie sticks
  • Hummus
  • WG crackers
  • Fruit sauce
  • WW carrot muffin
  • Fresh cheese cup
  • Apple
  • Grilled cheese sandwich (WG bread, cheddar cheese)
Week 2
  • Egg wrap (celery, WW flat bread, cheese, scrambled egg)
  • Baby carrots
  • Cheese string
  • WW pita
  • Seasonal fruit
  • WW French toast
  • Milk
  • Guacamole
  • Cheese cubes
  • WG pita wedges
  • Quesadilla (tomato & green pepper, WW tortilla, cheddar cheese, black beans)
Week 3
  • Orange
  • WG bagel
  • Fresh cheese cup
  • Pizza (tomato sauce, WW English muffin, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms & peppers)
  • Green beans
  • Fresh cheese cup
  • WG crackers
  • Veggie wrap (chopped vegetables, cheese, hummus, WW tortilla)
  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • WW pancakes
WG-Whole Grain, WW-Whole Wheat

Table alternate text:

This table lists a three week selection of food choices to use as Morning Meals for Student Nutrition Program operating in facilities that have On-site food preparation. If you require more information and/or clarifications, please email snp@toronto.ca.

2. Morning Meal SAMPLE Menus (NO on-site food preparation)

  • Designed for student nutrition programs with limited food preparation facilities and/or limited volunteers/staff to prepare foods.
  • To portion these items when facilities are limited you can pour from a larger container into a single use serving utensil e.g. cup, bowl or plate. Multi-use serving utensils (for e.g. reusable serving spoon) cannot be used when facilities are limited.
  • If items are individually wrapped, they can be bought in single serving containers or they can be individually portioned on-site.
  • These menus are suitable for a grab and go and/or bin/tray style service.


A healthy Student Nutrition Program meal includes at least:

  • One vegetable or fruit, plus
  • One protein food, plus
  • One whole grain food
Always have tap water available.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1
  • Banana
  • Yogurt cup
  • WG granola bar
  • Applesauce cup
  • Milk carton
  • WW melba toast
  • Apple
  • Cheese string
  • WG crackers
  • Clementine
  • Fresh cheese cup
  • WW muffin
  • Fruit cup
  • Milk carton
  • WW naan & hummus
Week 2
  • Apple
  • Milk carton
  • WG granola bar
  • Baby carrots
  • Cheese string
  • WG pitas
  • Banana
  • Yogurt tube
  • WG muffin
  • Applesauce cup
  • Cheese string
  • Roti
  • Orange
  • Milk carton
  • WW crackers
Week 3
  • Mini cucumber
  • Cheese string
  • WW bun
  • Snap peas
  • Milk carton
  • WG granola bar
  • Green beans
  • Fresh cheese cup
  • WG crackers
  • Fruit cup
  • Milk carton
  • WG breadsticks
  • Baby carrots
  • WG crackers
  • Hummus
WG-Whole Grain, WW-Whole Wheat

Table alternate text:

This table lists a three week selection of food choices to use as Morning Meals for Student Nutrition Program operating in facilities that have NO on-site food preparation. If you require more information and/or clarifications, please email snp@toronto.ca.