Thursday 31 January 2013

Coordinator's Meeting

Last Friday we held our annual Coordinator's Meeting at Sir George Ross Secondary School. We are so lucky to have this school available to our OSNP coordinators. The staff and students there always do a fantastic job of helping set us up with a great space to hold our meetings and presentations. They also provide us with great food! Thanks especially to Chris Squire and his students.

In the morning we had 3 great presentations that would help inspire coordinators and get them thinking about what they can do in their schools and programs.

Sandra Schultz and Deb Hymers, N'Step
  • Sandra is a mom and volunteer at St. Robert Catholic School. In her presentation she focused on ideas for snack promotion and ideas, funding sources and other community resources. This was followed by a introduction to N'Step - a not-for-profit registered charity, providing hands-on nutrition and physical activity programs directly in classrooms. They have done pilot projects at 2 elementary schools in London.
Thank you Sandra and Deb for your hard work and dedication to improving the health of students.  For more information visit

Andrew Fleet, Growing Chefs
  • Andrew is a chef and brought the Growing Chefs program from British Columbia to London. The Growing Chefs Ontario Classroom Gardening Project started as one program, at one school in the spring of 2008. This program has grown since then and has expanded to include three additional food education programs in London and the surrounding area.
Thank you Andrew for your passion and commitment to getting kids excited about healthy food and cooking.
For more information visit

Chantal Ingram, Halton Food For Though
  • Chantal is the Director of Programs at Halton Food for Thought. Halton Food for Thought is a registered charity and their goal is to promote the connection between healthy food choices and improved learning through the provision of breakfast, lunch or snacks at school or community-based sites. She shared information about nutrition programs and farm to school initiatives happening in their community.
Thank you Chantal for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm about what's happening in Halton.
For more information visit

In the afternoon, our coordinators went into small groups to discuss and learn more about what is going on in each other's school and program.

Thank you to our partners and leaders for facilitating discussions, providing insight and participating in this day. We are so grateful and lucky to have your expertise and support.
  • Christine Callaghan, Middlesex London Health Unit
  • Michelle Martin, Middlesex London Health Unit
  • Carrie Warring, Middlesex London Health Unit
  • Shelly Happy, London InterCommunity Health Centre
  • Ginny Trembley, May Court Club of London
  • Sharon Basic, May Court Club of London
And last, but certainly not least, thank you to the school coordinators that attended this day. I hope you went back to your programs with ideas and a renewed sense of  passion. Without you and your support within your schools, this day would not be possible.

Monday 28 January 2013

Grocery Card Giveaway

WagJag and have a giveaway until January 31, 2013. You could win 1 of 10 Loblaws Grocery Gift Cards. Click the link below to enter.

Good luck!

Enter here

Loblaws gift cards can be redeemed at Loblaws (Ontario) Fortinos, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocers, No Frills, Provigo, Maxi, Maxi &Co., the Real Canadian Superstores and Atlantic Superstores, Extra Foods and the Real Canadian Wholesale Clubs. Winners will be chosen by random draw on February 1st, 2013. They will be contacting all winners by email. So, make sure to check your inbox!

Monday 21 January 2013

The Month of Oatmeal

January is Oatmeal Month. I've posted a recipe to include in your snack or breakfast program to celebreate oatmeal. January is such a dreary month, so it's always nice to have a warm meal in the morning.

Oatmeal seems to have a bad rap as bland or boring. But oatmeal is so versatile and it's great for you. Oatmeal is high in fiber, vitamins, nutrients and keeps you full for a long time. Not only that is it a healthy meal, it's a cheap one!

Below is a simple oatmeal recipe. (taken from: Parenting Magazine)

Serves 4 (1-cup servings)
Make the oatmeal:
In a saucepan, combine 2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant), 2 cups low-fat milk, 2 cups water, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Let sit 5 minutes.

Keep kids engaged and excited about their bowl of oatmeal by providing an oatmeal bar! Let the students choose their toppings. You can include ingredients such as:
- blueberries
- strawberries
- bananas
- honey or maple syrup
- yogurt
- cinnamon
- apples
- peaches

The options are endless. So go ahead, serve up a healthy bowl of oatmeal and enjoy!

Monday 14 January 2013

Time Savers

I recently came across a great article from Dairy Goodness with some great tips on how to optimize your time spent organizing and preparing food. This article was written with the family in mind, but these 5 tips can definitely help you save time and effort for your nutrition programs.

1. Prepare Vegetables in Advance

After a visit to the grocery store, we tend to have lots of vegetables for our programs. When you have some spare time, wash and trim those veggies in advance and store them in containers.

If you have a whole school snack program, take the time to separate those vegetables by classroom to make the delivery that much easier when the time comes. Or place the vegetables in re-sealable plastic bags so they are ready for each day of the week. 

2. Get Your Fruit Ready

In addition to vegetables, it is such a time saver to wash and prepare fruit in advance. Place the fruits in containers or plastic bags. A lot of fruits like pineapple, oranges, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.) and even grapes need to be cut into bite sized pieces. Doing this work in advance will get you ready and stop the scrambling during the morning or snack time. 

3. Freeze Large Quantities

If your program is lucky enough to have a freezer, make use of it! There are programs out there that make foods from scratch such as muffins, soups, breakfast sandwiches, etc.Some of this food can be made in very large batches and stored in smaller serving sizes.

Also, if there is a great sale on items such as bread, bagels, yogurt or milk, they can be frozen and taken out when you need them. (Kids also love frozen yogurt tubes!)

4. Use Leftovers

We all know using leftovers at home is a time saver and money saver. Apply this to your nutrition programs too! All that fruit that you washed and prepped didn't get used? Serve it with a bowl of yogurt, pancakes, cereal or add them to smoothies. Fruit and some vegetables (like carrots or zucchini) is also great for muffins or other baked goods.

5. Plan Your Menus

Having a schedule of what you will be serving not only helps you plan and get organized in the kitchen, it gets the kids excited about what to expect! Of course, this menu doesn't have to be set in stone, it can be flexible with what's on sale or what is available to you.

Friday 11 January 2013

Fundraiser Friday

Working for a not for profit organization, I know the difficulty and time it can take to raise money for programs and our students. However, sometimes keeping it simple is all that's needed.

Right now is not the best economic times, but by reaching out to our community you may be surprised with what you hear back. Organizations, companies, businesses and individuals can be generous, especially when it comes to their own community and schools.

Make sure parents and caregivers are aware of the nutrition programs in schools and that you are feeding their children. Send out letters, put it in your newsletters, on your schools signs, on the website or send out business cards like Knollwood Park has done in the past.

Shown: Front and Back

If our community and members are given the knowledge and opportunity of how they can help, more often than not, they will. Adopting the Field of Dreams mantra "if you build it, they will come" is not enough. You have to promote what you've built - programs that provide healthy food to students to help them grow and learn.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Teach Nutrition Award

 Calling Elementary Teachers!

Providing your students with healthy food is one thing...going the extra mile and teaching them to make healthy choices can get you an award of $100.

Teach Nutrition has up to 100 awards of $100 for select kindergarten to grade 8 teachers in Ontario, in recognition of their innovative and original ideas for teaching nutrition. Implementing nutrition initiatives in the classroom helps raise awareness and develop skills so students eat healthy.

So if you are planning a creative idea in your classroom, or know of someone who is, apply for this award. This must be over and above a OSNP nutrition program. I know there are many dedicated and original teachers out there, so get more information here.

The theme this year is Grocery Shopping for Healthy Food, so create innovative ideas for teaching nutrition in the classroom to connect this theme and the curriculum. 

Monday 7 January 2013

Healthy Living Champions

This award is for elementary schools in Middlesex and London that show a commitment to the health and well being of students. Sponsored in part by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, this award demonstrates that your school engages students through physical activity and healthy eating.

The application can be found here through the Middlesex-London Health Unit website. If you are a Ontario Student Nutrition Program,why not consider applying for this award. Congratulations to those schools that received awards for their efforts last year and that continue to make healthy living a priority in the lives of students!


Wednesday 2 January 2013

Food of the Month

Meh...what's up doc?

The food of the month for January is a crunchy vegetable and rabbits love it! That's right, the carrot is what's up. Carrots were always my favourite vegetable as a kid because there are so many different ways you can enjoy a carrot and they're easy to eat and prepare!

Carrots are available all year round and can be eaten raw or cooked. Below you'll find some recipes and snack ideas for the carrot. So why not use this versatile vegetable in your snack or breakfast program.

A snack in a cup. These were enjoyed during our after school program at Princess Elizabeth Public School.

Keep it simple. Cut up carrots with other vegetables or crackers to enjoy with a healthy yogurt dip or hummus..

Taken from:
Spread a piece of whole wheat bread or a cracker with cream cheese or another spreadable cheese. Add your favourite toppings. The picture above includes ham and grated carrot. 

Taken from:
This recipe comes from Eat Right Ontario's Kids Recipe Challenge. 
Spread a pita with hummus and arrange carrot slices around the pita. This picture shows an idea to use the snack for helping students tell time. Eat and learn to tell time!

Taken from:
Carrot Chips:
Recipe from Chow

  • 2 large carrots (at least 1 inch in diameter), peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Your favourite seasonings (salt and pepper, seasoning salt, cumin, etc.)
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Holding the stem end, shave the carrots lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable peeler. Place the carrot strips in a medium bowl, add the oil, seasonings to taste and toss with your hands until thoroughly coated.
  3. Place the strips in a single layer on baking sheets, do not overlap.
  4. Bake for 6 minutes, then rotate the pans. Bake until the edges of the chips are just starting to turn golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes more. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the chips cool until crisp, about 3 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.