HEAL Helps Grow School Fruit & Vegetable Program
Over the past two years the HEAL team has been collaborating with the Ontario Student Nutrition Program of Southwestern Ontario to evaluate the impacts of an innovative centrally-procured school food program in SW Ontario. The pilot program provided children in 30 schools with healthy, locally-sourced snacks (fruits and vegetables), once per day for 10 weeks. The primary purpose of the program was to improve the nutritional quality of food being offered through the existing school snack programs. The OSNP of SWO currently facilitates traditional snack programs to over 100,000 students in 480 elementary schools across SWO. With information gained from the HEAL study, it is hoped that the program can be further improved and rolled out to all OSNP schools!
The HEAL team just wrapped up data collection in June, and will be examining data and reporting findings from nearly 2,000 participating students over the next few months. In the meantime, HEAL Director Jason Gilliland, along with OSNP and school board reps, participated in an event at Woodland Heights public school on June 12th to announce that a version of the fruit and vegetable program had already been rolled out to 150 schools in the region and efforts are ongoing to bring healthy fruits and vegetables to all schools!
The research team includes:
Principal Investigator: Dr Jason Gilliland (HEAL)
More information on the OSNP can be found at www.osnp.ca