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Food Day Curriculum

Elementary, Middle


This resource teaches students the importance of eating real, fresh food, cutting back on processed foods, and advocating for healthier communities. It links a reliance on processed food with increased carbon footprints and emphasizes that the students are inheriting a world with a food system that threatens their personal health and the health of the planet.

Lesson One- Eat Real

In this lesson, students learn why eating real, that is eating whole foods from plants and animals — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, poultry, fish and low fat diary products — is so important. They then describe the health and ecological benefits of whole foods vs processed foods. The lesson ends with students making an 'Eat Real Action Plan'.

Lesson Two- Mostly Plants

This lesson starts with students checking in on their Eat Real Action Plan and sharing their successes and challenges. Students then confirm why it is very important to eat whole plant foods that they can get from supermarkets, farms and gardens close to where they live; and when possible, have meat products from animals raised in a humane and sustainable way. Students look at illustrations of different plants and gain the appreciation that they eat many different parts of a variety of plants including roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. They learn about filling half of their plates with fruits and vegetables and a quarter of their plates with grain and create an action plan to follow this approach.  Students are encouraged to share what they have learned with their families.

Lesson Three- Not Too Much

Students review the health and ecological benefits of eating real and mostly plants, and identify the positive changes they have made. They explore why it is important to limit those popular processed foods that contain little or no nutrients and often have high amounts of added fat and sugar. They measure out the teaspoons of sugar and fat common in these foods to demonstrate that many have more than the recommended daily maximum in  just one food portion or drink.  Students then write a paragraph or create a drawing that describes why eating plenty of whole, plant-based foods and fewer overly processed foods is personally important. Finally, they create a “small-size-it” action plan to practice 'small size only' when they do have processed foods.

Lesson Four- Navigate the Environment

This lesson examines the strong influence our food environment has on what we eat. This includes everything from food advertisements to what is available in stores and gardens in the community. Students learn that much of what is available in our food environment does not support the Food Day Eating Goals.  After examining a map of an area around the school, they indicate the opportunities for wholesome eating, such as fruit and vegetable stands, farmers’ markets, gardens at schools and in the community. The lesson ends with students making a “Navigate the Environment” action plan

Lesson Five: Be an Advocate

In this final lesson, students come up with ideas to create a plan for change in the food environment that will make it easier for the community to meet the Food Day Eating Goals.  Students  brainstorm ideas, create a list of steps to carry out their plans and explain each step with a timeline for completion. They also discuss how to track progress and what data to collect to determine if the plan is successful.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Use visuals and experiments as ways for students to evaluate information
  • Compare and contrast evidence from different sources
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Selecting and integrating information from various sources
  • Evaluating and reworking plans for action
  • Problem solving skills


  • Studies health and science in social/personal perspectives
  • Addresses outcomes in health and physical education and encourages student awareness and wellness
  • Lessons are easy to understand and are written so most students can be successful
  • Includes tips to modify lessons for elementary and high school levels
  • Encourages action in the community
  • Promotes sustainable farming and eating local
  • Eat Real Whole Food photographs are of excellent quality
  • Food cards contain both health related and environmental impact information for each food type
  • Suggestions are given for advocacy projects
  • Connects students with their community
  • Effective simulation for sugar and fat content in foods
  • Lesson extensions have good links to videos, movies, cooking websites, and field trip suggestions


  • Assessment tools need to be developed by the teacher
  • First Nations perspectives on sustainable food production are not discussed

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used in elementary and middle level courses to address learning outcomes in health and physical education related to nutrition, healthy eating choices, and wellness. It can also be used in science, social studies and geography classes to emphasize the link between human activity, the sustainable production of food, and a healthy environment. It would be an excellent cross-curricular activity to launch a healthy eating initiative at school and in the community, especially to celebrate Food Day- October 24th.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

Citizenship (3)

  • Community-Building and Participation
  • Ecological Footprint
  • General Guide to Taking Action

Food & Agriculture (3)

  • Conventional Farming
  • Local Food
  • Organic Farming

Human Health & Environment (1)

  • Health Promotion

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Students participate in activities which describe the health benefits of eating real food and the consequences of consuming a diet with too much processed food. Students will develop their own opinions on the degree to which they want to support a responsible healthy lifestyle.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource relates real whole food choices and sustainable farming practices to both a healthy society and a healthy environment.  The cost of real vs processed food and the impacts on household budgets will need to be added to the discussions.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The resource offers thought-provoking activities that promote discussion and encourages action.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

Each lesson has an action opportunity which students are encouraged to share with their families. The final lesson involves an action plan for the benefit of the entire community.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

Group discussions, and the re-evaluation of lesson action plans may provide some opportunities for values clarification but there needs to be more opportunities to express their beliefs and their personal roles in promoting healthy sustainable eating habits.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Students become aware of the environmental consequences related to unsustainable farming practices and large carbon footprints left by the production and packaging of processed foods and their transportation to markets.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good

The resource encourages action in the community and uses a map of the local area to find places to produce real food.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Hope for the future is fostered through the action plans of the students

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

Students brainstorm and create their own individual action plans and in the last lesson, create a community action plan. They are encouraged to come up with possible solutions on their own.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

There are opportunities to address outcomes in health, physical education, home economics, geography, social studies, language arts, and science. This resource could be used effectively as a cross-curricular project.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Some guided inquiry is used in each lesson to share information but students are encouraged to bring their own life experiences to each lesson. The teacher takes on the role of the facilitator in the student-driven community action plan.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good

Student have opportunities to read and reflect on print and media text, participate in hands-on learning activities, creative writing, and collaborative action plans. Lesson extensions have links to video clips, movies, field trip and guest speaker suggestions along with "kid friendly" cooking websites.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The simulation of the fat and sugar content in processed food is effective and has real world relevance. 

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Students self-assess and peer assess their Eat Real Food Action Plans, although no rubric is provided. This provides feedback to guide further learning and action.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

The Food Cards provide information on both health benefits and consequences, and environmental implications of our food choices. Students are encouraged to share their own personal experiences, which helps to explore concepts in an authentic context.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

There are opportunities for students to go deeper into chosen issues and and lesson extensions provide some suggestions for this

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.