Case Synopsis

Nutrition is important for overall physical, mental, social, and cognitive well-being. It is especially crucial for children as it is linked to all aspects of their growth and development, which is connected to their health as adults. Children on their own are incapable of deciding what foods are good for their health. Hence, it is important to provide them with the right nutrition and a supportive environment to instill healthy eating habits. These habits will promote a better quality of life that will be perpetuated later on (Children’s Heart Centre, 2007). To address the nutritional standards of foods provided at schools in Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Education developed the School Food and Beverage Policy. The objective was not only to assist schools in providing a healthier environment for students (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010) but also to influence manufacturers to supply healthy foods to schools. This case revolves around the challenges faced by schools in implementing the School Food and Beverage Policy. These challenges involve the potential barriers faced by the school board, teachers, parents, and the students to abide by the policy.

The goal of the case is to provide an understanding that merely providing a policy is not the only solution to an issue. Factors such as monetary resources, communication, social environments, institutional willingness, and stakeholders’ accountability help facilitate a policy’s successful implementation. Furthermore, these factors play an important role when continuously monitoring and evaluating a policy. Policy evaluation is critical to understanding the impact of the policy on the community, institutional, and individual levels (Ross C. Brownson, 2009). Moreover, the case also encourages readers to think about the social determinants of health pertinent to healthy eating and access to healthy foods.

Case Objectives

  1. Understand the barriers to the implementation of the School Food and Beverage Policy.
  2. Explore the implications of the policy on the social environment and on individual attitudes and behaviours.
  3. Illustrate the application of the social ecological model in the context of the School Food and Beverage Policy.
  4. Propose realistic and feasible recommendations to the issues identified in the case.

Case Study Questions

  1. What are the issues that might cause implementation gaps in the policy besides those mentioned in the case?
  2. What are the social determinants of health related to the case? How are they affecting the policy?
  3. What steps should be taken to avoid the ‘nanny state’ argument during the implementation of the policy?
  4. Is the policy limiting the freedom of choice of the students?
  5. Is educating teachers, parents, and students enough to facilitate the implementation of the policy?


nutrition policy, school, healthy eating, healthy schools

Additional Author Information

Sai Chaphekar, MBBS, MPH

Paula Dworatzek, RD, PhD, Associate Professor

Amanda Terry, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Chaphekar, S., Dworatzek, P., Terry, A. (2017). Changing School Food Environments: Is Policy Enough?. in: John-Baptiste, A. & McKinley, G. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2017. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.