April 23, 2009
Media Release

York Region endorses Nutrition Tools for Schools toolkit

Guide supports schools in developing and sustaining healthy nutrition environments
NEWMARKET – York Regional Council today endorsed the Nutrition Tools for Schools toolkit as a valuable resource to help schools in their efforts to create healthy nutrition environments.  Council also recommended adoption of the toolkit as a province-wide resource and basis for future development of nutrition-related legislation and regulations.
“The development process undertaken to create Nutrition Tools for Schools exemplifies positive collaborations between public health and the school communities,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “This approach has reduced duplication of work by health units, leveraged financial resources and resulted in community resources that will promote lifelong healthy eating in children and adolescents.”
Led by York Region Community and Health Services staff in collaboration with public health dietitians from seven other health units (Algoma, Hamilton, North Bay-Parry Sound, Simcoe-Muskoka, Sudbury and District and Timiskaming), Nutrition Tools for Schools outlines a step-by-step process to guide schools and provide practical tools to make healthy eating environments a reality.  The program engages the entire school community in promoting consistent messages about healthy eating throughout the school day.
The toolkit consists of five main components including a leader’s handbook, 17 action guides and a food standard guide.  Food standards in the guide align with Ministry of Health and Long Term Care policies and guidelines and Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. 
“Food standards are an essential foundation for schools to improve their nutrition environment,” said Town of Markham Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Chair of the Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee.  “Food standards provide clear direction for administration, staff, school councils and lunch providers when making decisions on types of food and beverages to offer, sell or use for fundraising.” 
York Region, in partnership with the public and Catholic school boards, currently works with more than 75 elementary schools in promoting healthy school environments through the Healthy Schools program.  Participation in this program requires schools to form a committee representing parents, teachers and students.  Together with assistance from public health staff, a health topic is chosen based on the school population needs.  Nutrition is one of the most popular topics chosen.
“Nutrition is important to people of all ages, but it is particularly important to the well-being of children and adolescents,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health.  “Well-nourished children and adolescents are more likely to be better prepared to learn, be active and maintain their health as adults.”
For more information on this or any other public health topic, please contact York Region                             Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444 Ext. 4016 / Cell: 905 251-5553
Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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