There are two types of programs to consider when looking at making changes to the foods and beverages offered during recreational programming; internal programs managed by the facility and external programs, hosted by the facility but organized by an external group.
For both internal and external programming it is important to communicate your Healthy Choices goals and policies with all staff and partners to ensure awareness and commitment to providing healthy food and beverages.
Here are some suggested actions …
…if food is served during the program:
Action: Familiarize program staff providing the food with your Healthy Choices criteria
Discuss the following:
- Healthy Choices policy
- Food and beverages served;
- Portion sizes;
- Prices and affordability; and
- Promotion of Healthy Choices through advertising and educational material.
Some useful resources include:
- Canada’s Food Guide
- Healthy Snack Ideas for Programs (PDF)
- Food Safety Guidelines (PDF)
- Hand Hygiene
- Food Labelling
- Understanding Nutrition Fact Lables (PDF)
- Understanding Ingredient Labels (PDF)
Refer them to the provincial or territorial nutritional guidelines for your region and recommend they use the Brand Name Food List (www.bnfl.healthlinkbc.ca/) as a reference guide for identifying healthy foods and beverages.
…if food is not served during the program:
Action: Familiarize program participants and leaders with your Healthy Choices Criteria
- Encourage program participants to bring healthy snacks, lunches and drinks to the program. See the Sample Letter to Parents.
- Use non-food rewards to support healthy eating for kids and teens (extra time to play, Frisbees™, balls, etc.).
- Consider developing a program policy covering off-site food purchases for internal recreation programs that includes all camps or programs managed by a recreation facility in which food is served or consumed during day trips, especially for children and teens.
- Encourage all program leaders and instructors to lead by example, by choosing healthy food and beverages.
- For external organizations using the facility, provide educational materials to the program manager explaining the reasons for healthy choices. This will help them support the initiative.
Action: Look for partnership opportunities
- Team up with a local grocery store, for example, and offer a healthy snack every month for all program participants.
Action: Follow up
- Monitor your changes to make sure they stick and are consistent throughout all recreation programs.