The overall objective of the HEAL research team is to evaluate the impact of an innovative centrally-procured school food program (CPSFP) by the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) in Southwestern Ontario (SWO). The CPSFP will provide children in 30 schools with healthy, locally-sourced snacks (fruits and vegetables), once per day for 12 weeks. The purpose of the program is twofold: (1) to improve the nutritional quality of food being offered through the existing school snack programs; and (2) to establish local food procurement strategies in order to source a greater proportion of program food from local farmers.
The OSNP currently facilitates traditional snack programs to over 100,000 students in 480 elementary schools across SWO. With information gained from this study, the CPSFP can be further improved and almost immediately rolled out to all 480 schools in SWO! Furthermore, continuation of the CPSFP in future years will allow the team to conduct future research with more complex experimental designs, including longitudinal analyses to examine longer-term impacts of the CPSFP on children’s dietary behaviours, physical health, mental and emotional health, and social and cognitive development. Additionally, we can track long-term impacts on the local food economy.
For further inquiry into the OSNP program, please visit: http://www.osnp.ca/