Supporting student nutrition in Ontario classrooms

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, good nutrition is important for the health, development, and academic performance of children. Other research suggests a link between nutritious school food programs and better student attendance and participation in classrooms. At Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), we are committed to nourishing healthy communities. We support initiatives that help people in our communities access the nutrition they need to support their health and well-being.

To ensure students have access to proper nutrition, DFO partners with Student Nutrition Ontario (SNO) to fund a critical program which rebates schools for their milk servings. As a result of this ongoing funding, participating schools can provide students with access to nutritious milk, supporting a balanced diet and improving students’ ability to focus and learn.

“Students look forward to drinking milk at our nutrition program. We have found that our students remain full longer and it prevents them from over-eating and snacking unnecessarily. Further, they enjoy a focused morning of productivity without the distractions of hunger or fatigue”

Since 2019, DFO has donated over $700,000 to the program and continues to commit $200,000 annually to support it for years to come. More than 3,500 schools and 3.3 million children across Ontario have participated in the program between 2019 – 2022. Sometimes, these programs are the only time a child has access to nutritious milk and dairy products. 

“I drink milk in the morning because it’s refreshing and high in calcium. I’ve only been drinking it since it’s been provided at the school,” said a student participant in a Student Nutrition Ontario program. 

While this type of program is incredibly important at any time, DFO’s partnership with SNO enabled schools to continue to help children and families in need during the COVID-19 lockdowns.  

“During tHe months that schools needed to close [in 2021], [our school] supported over 70 families, which is more than 200 students with food support on a biweekly basis. “We [created] food boxes containing nourishing foods that were well balanced and would include milk, crackers, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, fruits and vegetables” said a Vice-Principal of one school involved in the Student Nutrition Ontario program. “These types of real, hearty, and nutritious foods would help these students stay fuller longer, which makes a huge difference in their growth and development. The impact of this program was huge. Parents have told us that the program reminded them that they are not alone, and instead in a village of support.” 

This is just one example from many of the schools and families in Ontario supported through this work. 

As dairy farmers, it’s our nature to nourish. We are committed to investing in health and nutrition to allow individuals, families, and communities across Ontario to thrive.