Understanding the current state of food literacy and the use of local foods in Ontario early childhood settings

There is currently no information available about the use of local and sustainable foods within the ecosystem feeding children in Ontario. As well, knowledge is limited around the subject of food literacy of the people working to provide food to young children. With over 4000 licensed child care centres, 4000 elementary schools, and over 3500 Student Nutrition Program (SNP) sites in Ontario, there is tremendous opportunity to influence both children and parents through this ecosystem around choosing and consuming healthy foods. The plan is to understand the knowledge level and then to create and disseminate tailored food and nutrition education programs that support local and sustainable foods. Ultimately educating children in key developmental periods to create lifelong healthy eating habits.

The Ontario Public Health Association has partnered with the Food Innovation & Research Studio (FIRSt) to conduct qualitative and quantitative research in the form of key informant interviews, surveys to gain a better understanding of the current state of food literacy among providers of food for young children in Ontario; in particular, to learn about the level of awareness, attitudes and challenges for providers of food to young children age 4 – 7.

Educating young children (age 4 – 7) about healthy eating will give them a lifelong head start in adopting healthy and sustainable eating habits.

Research results will be disseminated broadly via media and communication tools for future planning around local food and food literacy promotion and activities. Read the full report here.

The OPHA also obtained support and funding from The Greenbelt Fund.