Operationalizing sustainable food systems through food programs in elementary schools





sustainable food system, school food, school meal program, food literacy, lunch program, snack program


Healthy eating supports optimal growth, development, and academic achievement. Yet, the diet quality of school-aged children is poor. Food insecurity and chronic disease are concerns, as are unsustainable agricultural practices. Sustainable food systems have a low environmental impact and can address both dietary and sustainability concerns. This multi-case study was conducted in two Community Schools in a mid-sized Canadian city. Data was collected through interviews, observations, a checklist, and curriculum and policy review. The purpose of this study was to understand the capacity of local elementary schools to implement sustainable food systems strategies in curriculum, policy, and practice. Teachers were doing some cooking and gardening with students, and schools were doing some recycling. There were no specific food policies. Infrastructure challenges varied by school. Insufficient funding and curriculum resources were seen as barriers to implementing sustainable food systems. Staff characteristics and relationships were seen as facilitators.

Schools can be positioned to be strong leaders in the area of school food by prioritizing food literacy and sustainable food system strategies and developing supportive policies, including community members and students in programming, and including experiential food production opportunities for all students.




How to Cite

Everitt, T., Engler-Stringer, R., & Martin, W. (2022). Operationalizing sustainable food systems through food programs in elementary schools. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 9(3), 124–146. https://doi.org/10.15353/cfs-rcea.v9i3.482