New HEAL Study: Children’s Perceptions of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) in Southwestern Ontario, Canada
A team of researchers led by Mariam R. Ismail with Jason A. Gilliland, June I. Matthews, Jennifer Beverley, and Danielle S. Battram recently published an article entitled: “Children’s Perceptions of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.”
This study aimed to explore children’s lived experiences with the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP), a free, school-based snack program implemented in elementary schools in Southwestern, Ontario, Canada, to gain insights into future school food programs (SFP).
Focus group discussions (n=17) were conducted with 105 children in Grades 5 to 8 in seven elementary schools. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded for themes using inductive content analysis.
Overall, children appreciated the OSNP and felt that it filled a need in students. Children also reported a willingness to try novel food items. For future SFPs, participants recommended that input be sought from children to ensure food preferences were considered. Children also discussed wanting more appealing food offerings that may include some choice. Finally, children also mentioned wanting a fair and equitable distribution of food in classrooms.
Children appreciated the OSNP and reported benefits to themselves and their peers. They also provided some valuable recommendations for future SFPs. If a nationally funded SFP is to be considered in Canada, children expressed the need to make the program equitable, while still allowing schools the flexibility to meet their unique needs and preferences.
Citation: Mariam R. Ismail, Jason A. Gilliland, June I. Matthews, Jennifer Beverley, and Danielle S. Battram. “Children’s Perceptions of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research (2023); https://doi.org/10.3148/cjdpr-2022-042