University of Guelph

In April, 2019 a five year Gift Agreement with the University of Guelph, and its College of Social and Applied Human Sciences (CSHAS) was established with support from the College of Biological Sciences.  This Agreement enables the formation of The Helderleigh Family Food Literacy Program within the Guelph Family Health Study.

About the Guelph Family Health Study


Jess Haines



David Ma


All parents want the best for their children but struggle to know what is best in today’s environment. Our work is helping to provide families with needed strategies and tools to empower them for positive change.


The Guelph Family Health Study is a family based longitudinal research study that examines the key factors that influence how children eat, play and sleep. The Guelph Family Health Study is also testing new ways for kids to learn healthy habits early - habits that can significantly lower a child’s risk for disease now and in the future.


The Helderleigh Family Food Literacy program, within Guelph Family Health Study, will allow us to greatly expand the number of families participating in the Study; to dedicate a significant amount of academic resources towards researching parent and child food literacy, with the goal of widely disseminating the results.


We believe the Guelph Family Health Study is a game-changer, designed to tackle the pressing challenges of chronic diseases, finding solutions for longer and healthier lives.

About The Helderleigh Family Food Literacy Program

The Mission of the Family Food Literacy Program is two-fold:

  1. To support ground breaking research on parent and child food literacy; and

  2. To mobilize and accelerate knowledge generated in the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective and scalable strategies to support food literacy among families.

Project Work & Outcome


Findings from national surveillance data suggest that the diets of most Canadian children do not align with the national recommendations for dietary intake. Results from the 2013 Canadian Community Health Study found that Canadian adults with higher food literacy, specifically related to planning, conceptualizing, and mechanical techniques, had higher fruit and vegetable consumption (Health Canada). A Guelph Family Health Study sub-study with 51 families found that families who planned their meals, had regular family meals, and involved their children in food preparation had healthier dietary intakes and wasted less food than families who did not engage in these practices. Additional research with larger samples are needed to identify key factors related to food literacy levels among Canadians. Without a clear understanding of the factors influencing food literacy, the development of food literacy interventions will involve a great deal of guesswork and may result in ineffective and unsustainable outcomes.

Key Next Steps

  1. Explore key determinants of parent and child food literacy levels among a larger sample of families within the Guelph Family Health Study.

  2. Identify and test strategies to increase families’ level of food literacy

  3. Use a range of knowledge mobilization strategies to disseminate and apply results to improve food literacy among families across Canada.


Special thanks to the families of the Guelph Family Health Study, members of the Family Council and the academic team of researchers students and trainees at the University of Guelph for making this Program possible.