What is The Helderleigh Foundation?

The Helderleigh Foundation is an established fund established in 1992 to improve the diet of Canadians. Its Mission is to be the food literacy champion, connector and knowledge provider. Based in Toronto, and funding partnerships and coalitions, the Foundation operates through volunteers, without full time staff. Learn more

What is the Helderleigh Nutrition Fund?

HNAF, for short, is a partnership between the Helderleigh Foundation and the Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) in George Brown College’s (GBC) Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts (CHCA). HNAF exists to advance applied nutrition and healthy eating in Ontario and, when possible, other parts of Canada. The Helderleigh Foundation committed $400,000 between 20015 and 2018 for nutrition and innovative health-related applied research projects. HNAF supported these studies in partnerships with health agencies, hospitals, universities, colleges, schools and municipalities. This initial Fund is now closed to new applicants who are not already in process.

What other major projects does the Helderleigh Foundation fund?

The Foundation typically provides grants for specific short-term projects, with a maximum granting period of three years. Only initiatives that align with The Foundation’s granting approach and fall within one of these three funding areas are eligible for funding. 1. Through a partnership with George Brown College, the Foundation has advanced nutrition through:

  • Enhanced core nutrition courses within the culinary curriculum.
  • Updated General Education nutrition course offered as an elective for all students.
  • Nutritional analysis, healthier ingredient substitutions and alternatives for culinary and bakery recipes.
  • Faculty training and professional development in nutrition studies.
  • Scholarship awards for full time enrolled students in nutrition.
  • Increased applied research, capacity and scope for the Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt).
  • Presenting sponsor of the highly acclaimed Ambition Nutrition Symposium.
  • Management of the innovative Helderleigh Nutrition Application Fund.
2. Through a partnership with the Ontario Public Health Association the Foundation has a shared vision of creating a generation of children who are food literate, who practice healthy and sustainable eating habits.
  • A new entity will be formed with the aim to be the best known, most valued and trustworthy source for nutrition knowledge and stakeholder exchange in Ontario.
  • Increasing the size of the network of academic and health intermediaries, advancing public policy.
  • Providing a knowledge hub, where food literacy data can be turned into actionable resources
  • Addressing the nutrition gaps and opportunities within the children and younger families “segments.”
3. Coalitions to advance education and to advocate for healthy food policies
  • Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy.
  • Ontario’s Food & Nutrition Strategy.
  • Canadian Food Funder Collaborative.
  • The case for a National Food Council.
  • Stop marketing to kids coalition and the Ottawa Principles.
4. Plant based proteins grown in Canada
  • Research in support of modernizing the regulatory framework to allow for on pack labelling claims for plant based protein products.

What does the Foundation not support?

However worthy other initiatives are, the Foundation’s resources are not limitless and, we regret, cannot extend to:

  1. Fund raising campaigns
  2. General building funds, not specific to program delivery
  3. Bursaries and scholarships not related to its Mission
  4. General capital campaigns
  5. Emergency funds other than for victims of natural disasters in need of nutrition
  6. Endowments and Chairs
  7. General operating funds support
  8. Public policy research and advocacy outside of its Mission
  9. The advancement of religious organizations and schools
  10. Poverty relief assisted programs, including community kitchens and food security programs
  11. Assistance for the sexually/physically abused
  12. Spousal and child abuse programs
  13. Assistance for the mentally challenged
  14. Substance abuse programs
  15. Long term care projects
  16. The arts
  17. Individuals
  18. Projects delivered outside of Canada
Learn what the Foundation does fund.

What is the purpose of the HNAF Fund?

The fund existed to help third party not for profit organizations advance their work using the services of George Brown College’s Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) students and faculty members. Projects fell in one of three areas of care; prevention , therapeutic or management of chronic diseases. This Fund is now closed. Please read more about the successful applicants work to date.

Who can participate?

Not-for-profit organizations, charitable organizations, the public sector and the broader public sector (e.g. post-secondary educational institutions; hospitals)

What are pulses?

Pulses are superfoods, the edible seeds of certain legumes. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. The word pulse refers to the dried seed only. So, fresh beans or peas are not considered pulses. Learn more at PulseCanada.com or visit www.lentils.org to find recipes and other information.

What are pulses’ nutritional benefits?

Pulses are rich in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. They contain relatively few calories and almost zero fat. Eating pulses helps reduce bad cholesterol.

The Helderleigh Foundation supports Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy. What is that?

It starts with updating Canada’s Food Guide by 2018 — but involves several other important steps:

  • Protecting vulnerable populations through the restricting of commercial marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages
  • Strengthening labeling and product claims, updating the ingredients lists and nutrition facts tables on food and beverages containers
  • Promoting new front-of-package nutrition information, particularly concerning sugars, sodium and saturated fat
  • Reducing sodium content and elimination of industrially produced trans-fats in foods
  • Increasing access to and availability of nutritious foods for isolated northern communities.

The Helderleigh Foundation supports Ontario’s Food & Nutrition Strategy — Food Literacy and Skills. What is that?

It is a coordinated and cross-ministerial approach to food policies and programming. For the Foundation, the expected outcomes include:

  • Enhanced food literacy and food skills
  • Increased demand and consumption of healthy and local food.
Read the Ontario Food & Nutrition Strategy.

What is the O.P.H.A.?

Created in 1949, the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) is a non-partisan, not profit organization that brings together a broad spectrum of groups and individuals concerned about people’s health. Its Nutrition Research Centre strengthens the capacity of health promotion and nutrition professionals, organizations and community partners. Please read more.

What is the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition?

The Stop Marketing to Kids ( Stop M2K) Coalition was founded by the Heart & Stroke Foundation in collaboration with the Childhood Obesity Foundation in 2014. The Stop M2K Coalition is made up of 12 non-governmental organizations with written endorsement from dozens of additional organizations and individuals. The goal is to restrict all for and beverage marketing to Canadian children age 16 and younger. Please read more.

How to Apply

This initial fund is now closed to new applicants who are not already in process. 




Confirm that your project falls within HNAF’s scope by phoning Winnie Chiu at 416 415 5000 Ext. 3616 or emailing first@georgebrown.ca with ‘HNAF Scope’ in the subject line.



Letter of Intent (LOI)

Complete your project’s LOI and email it to first@georgebrown.ca with ‘HNAF Application’ in the subject line.



Full Application

Once your pre-application through the Letter of Intent is approved, you will need to complete and submit this HNAF application.

If you have further questions throughout the process see our FAQs or contact first@georgebrown.ca

Research Findings

Media Literacy & Food Marketing - Lesson Plans

Many packaged food products found in supermarkets today are specifically designed to appeal to children. They range from dinosaur-shaped processed cheese, fruit gushers, and yogurt tubes to Dino-egg “hatching” oatmeal. They can sell the story of the product and highlight key attributes, but they don’t necessarily reflect the overall nutritional value. For this you need to examine the Nutrition Facts Table and ingredient list of each product. Charlene Elliott, PhD,  Canada Research Chair, Food Marketing, Policy and Children’s Health, Meaghan Brierley PhD and their team at the University of Calgary have introduced a series of lesson plans, fact sheets and e-book to help parents, guardians and educators understand how children view and interpret packaged foods. These materials are part of the media literacy initiative for the Alberta school curriculum. They were based on focus groups and surveys with over 600 children, attending grades one thru nine. This project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS). Special thank you to the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH). 

Food & Beverage Label Information - Challenging to Understand

Next to general research on the internet, Canadians source nutrition information from food and beverage labels. This includes front of package labelling, health claims and the Nutrition Facts Table. However for many people information is challenging to understand. 


Lana Vanderlee, PhD, School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo in her presentation at the Nutrition Resource Centre’s, Unpacking Nutrition Forum , indicated that the impact of policy on health disparities is particularly important. We need to consider lower literacy groups.


Canadians report that The Nutrition Facts Table is helpful, however interpretation requires numeracy, literacy and math skills, beyond many peoples interest or abilities. Canadians prefer front of pack symbols that are directive in nature and simple to understand. Examples include a warning system, health star rating or traffic light labelling that indicates the intake amount of sugar, sodium and saturated fats.

Creating Healthier Food Environments in Canada - Current Policies and Priority Actions

Policy action is needed from governments to shift the food environment towards one that can promote healthy diets. This is the overall finding from more than 70 non- government experts from 44 universities and non-government and professional organizations across Canada.


The Food EPI Canada study lead by Dr. Lana Vanderlee and Dr. Mary L’Abbe at the University of Toronto used the Food Environment Policy Index tool developed by the International Network for Food & Obesity to examine the state of food environment policy in Canada compared to internationally established good practices.


Nutrition related behaviours are now the greatest contributor to mortality in Canada. Changes, both large and incremental are necessary to help Canadians eat healthy. Read here.