FAQs
Interpreting PPM 150 | Food Service Providers | Monitoring & Implementation | Financial
      Implications
 |  Community Engagement

 

Interpreting PPM 150

Q: If one classroom has a special food day in the morning, does this count as an entire special food day?
A: According to the policy, each school is allowed ten special food days per year where the food and beverages sold to students may fall outside of the nutrition guidelines.  If one classroom has a special food day in the morning, it would count as one special food day for the entire school.  It is not ten special food days per classroom but rather for the entire school.

Q: Is chocolate milk considered a “sell most” beverage?
A: Yes, for both elementary school and secondary school, chocolate milk meets the requirements for a “sell most” beverage.  However, in elementary schools, chocolate milk servings must be 250 mL or less in order to be considered a “sell most” beverage.  In secondary schools, chocolate milk can be sold in 500 mL servings and still be considered a “sell most” beverage.  Be cautious of chocolate-based drinks which typically do not meet the milk beverage requirements of ≤2% milk fat or ≤5g of fat, and sugar ≤28g, and calcium ≥25% Daily Value.

Q: For bread products, whole grains have to be the first ingredient on the ingredient list in order to be considered a “sell most” food. Does this apply to pasta as well?
A: No. The food standards for Grain Products are divided into sub-categories, each with their own criteria. Bread is one sub-category. Pasta, Rice and Other Grains is another sub-category. For breads, whole grain must be the first item on the ingredient list (e.g. whole wheat, whole oats, etc). The remaining criteria would then be applied to determine which category it falls into.  For pasta to be a “sell most” food item, it must contain 3 g of fat or less, and 2 g or less of saturated fat and 240 mg or less of sodium.

Q: How is serving size taken into account when assessing foods?
A: The nutrition facts table indicates a suggested serving size. If the portion of food you will be offering is larger than the suggested size, you must account for this in the assessment.

Q: My school has a cafeteria and vending machines. Do I count both the cafeteria and the vending machines together when applying the 80/20 rule?
A: No. Each venue, program, or event where food and beverage is sold is assessed independently. Furthermore, foods and beverages must be assessed separately when applying the 80/20 rule. 

Q: Can vending machines be filled with diet pop?
A: Regular (caffeinated) diet pop falls under “not permitted for sale” in both elementary and secondary schools.  In secondary schools, diet pop that is caffeine-free would qualify as “sell less”. To sell this product in a secondary school, it would need to comply with the 80/20 rule. This means that for every one caffeine-free diet pop offering, four beverage offerings would need to be "sell most".

Q: Our school’s largest fundraiser is our pizza days. Can we still sell pizza?
A: Pizza can be made in a healthy way and can fit into the “sell most” category.  Most pizza providers can make a healthy pizza if you ask that they make changes. For example, insist on having a whole grain pizza crust, low-sodium pizza sauce (≤480 mg of sodium), part-skim milk cheese (20% milk fat or less), lean meat (e.g. grilled chicken) and vegetable toppings. Refer to your Healthy Pizza Day fact sheet for more ideas.

Q: Is there a list of “sell most” and “sell less” foods and beverages that I can access?
A: There is currently no food list available. Maintaining an up-to-date list, particularly given the frequency in which food manufacturers alter their recipes, is a challenging endeavour. To assist you in the assessment process, the Ministry of Education has developed an online Food Calculator tool for analyzing foods with a nutrition facts table against the PPM 150 food standards. For foods without a nutrition facts table, you can access the eaTracker tool brought to you by the Dietitians of Canada. This will provide you with a nutrient profile that can be assessed against the PPM 150 criteria.

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Food Service Providers

Q: Is it possible to obtain a list of pre-approved vendors from the school board?
A: Each school board is working through how best to manage this request. Some school boards have a list of pre-approved vendors (typically the larger providers, such as Chartwells); others are gathering a list of food vendors currently in use by their schools to better understand the landscape. The challenge in establishing pre-approved lists often lies with the variety and number of food vendors being used by schools, particularly the smaller independent establishments. Please contact your school board to see if they have compiled a list of pre-approved vendors. 

Q: I have received information from various vendors and chain franchises indicating they are in compliance with PPM 150 food standards. Is this the case? How do we know?
A: The challenge with franchise companies is that each location is independently owned. Your local establishment would need to be approached to ensure the offerings being brought into your school are in compliance with the food standards. Sample compliance letters have been provided to assist you in this process. Also keep in mind the quality of the offerings. For example, a pepperoni pizza on white crust may meet PPM 150 by changing the size of the slice and the amount of toppings; the healthier option would be a pizza slice made with whole wheat crust, leaner meats, and vegetable toppings.

Q: How will I know if the offerings provided by my food vendor are in compliance with PPM 150?
A: Schools are encouraged to begin engaging with their food vendors as soon as possible so that offerings can be adapted to meet the PPM 150 food standards. Ask your food vendors to sign letters of compliance. Click here for sample compliance letters. Your school board may also have templates to assist. Work with your vendors to make adjustments; you may be surprised to learn what is possible by simply asking. Schools are also encouraged to set up a committee with representatives from across the school community that can assist in keeping an eye on the offerings in your school.

Q: My lunch vendor needs to be educated on the policy. Will there be additional training sessions for food providers?
A: Additional vendor training sessions may be offered by your public health unit on an as needed basis. Please contact your public health unit to find out if any sessions are currently scheduled.

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Monitoring & Implementation

Q:Who is in charge of enforcing PPM 150?
A: School boards are responsible for ensuring that all schools are in compliance with PPM 150 by September 1st, 2011.  School boards will ask each principal to sign a letter at the end of the 2010-11 school year indicating that their food offerings will be in compliance with the policy by September 1st, 2011. 

Q: As a school principal, how do I manage the expectations of PPM 150 in and amongst other priorities?
A: The short answer is, you are not alone. The Healthy Schools 2020 workshop was intended to be a first step in providing you and your school communities with information, ideas, tools and resources to set you up for success in meeting PPM 150 standards and establishing healthy nutrition environments in your schools.

Here are some ways to get started:
  • Establish a school committee that includes parents, teachers, public health, and other community members.
  • Begin the dialogue with your food providers. Invite them to any training sessions being offered by your public health unit.
  • Share the resources provided in the workshop kit folder and on the CD.
  • Begin with one small change, e.g. one day of your weekly lunch menu, and build additional changes over time.

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Financial Implications

Q: Will PPM 150 increase the cost of food sold in schools?
A: Healthier food does not necessarily cost more. A study done by the University of Minnesota found that more nutritious lunches don't necessarily cost more to produce. It also found that school lunch sales don't decline because healthier meals are served.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Education website. www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/faqs.html   

Q: As a secondary school principal, one of my concerns is students leaving school property to purchase foods, which impacts the revenue from our cafeteria and vending machine sales. How do we compensate for this?
A:  This is a reality that school principals will have little to no control over. What is within your control is the offerings provided to your students for the time that they are in school. Soliciting students’ input and involvement in the change process will help in establishing food offerings that are both palatable and profitable. Parents will also be assured to know that a healthy meal is consistently available to their children while at school. As one principal noted at one of our workshops, these changes will slowly integrate as part of the school culture, and the desired choices of students can change over time as well.

Q:  I am concerned about the impact of the new food standards on our school's fundraising initiatives. How can we address this?
A: Ontario is not the first province to implement food standards in schools. British Columbia implemented their standards in 2005; a recent evaluation showed that over half of schools reported no change in their revenue from fundraising when they switched to healthier options1. As with any change, there will be challenges in the early days. The good news is that many alternative fundraising activities have emerged that are both healthy and profitable. Refer to the Healthy School Fundraising fact sheet and the School Fundraising Ideas document for ideas as well as a listing of non-food and healthy food product vendors.

1Act Now BC. School food sales and policy report II. Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. 2008.   

Q: I am not confident that students will purchase or eat these healthier foods. How can we make it work?
A: There is a misconception that students will not eat healthy foods. Exposing children to a variety of foods is a good way to expand their taste preferences. We may actually be making assumptions about what they will like or eat before providing them with sufficient opportunities to try different foods. When seeking to make changes to your food offerings, engage children in the process.

Here are some ideas:
  • Hold a taste testing with new meals from your food provider and ask students to vote on their favourite.
  • Consider a theme day around the food offering to engage the students and make it fun. 

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Community Engagement

Q: How do we engage our parent communities around the issue of healthy eating?
A: Engaging your parent community is essential when creating a healthy school nutrition environment. The Healthy Schools 2020 workshop CD contains sample parent newsletter inserts which can be sent to parents letting them know about the new policy. The CD also includes a short video, presentation slides, fundraising ideas, and other resources on the topic of nutrition in schools that can be shared at any parent council meeting. All of these materials can be found on the Healthy Schools 2020 website. The Nutrition Tools for Schools (NTS)© resource can also help in engaging the entire school community in creating healthy school environments. For information on NTS© or other ideas, please contact your public health school nurse/liaison.

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