Healthy Eating in Recreation Facilities
Healthy eating in PEI recreation settings: A provincial scan of food environments
In 2017, Heart & Stroke in PEI formed the Children’s Nutrition Committee with the mandate to plan, coordinate and deliver activities to support opportunities for children and youth to develop healthy eating habits. This included working toward the restriction of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to kids.
In 2018, the Children’s Nutrition Committee did a scan of food and beverage offerings and healthy food practices in recreation settings across Prince Edward Island (PEI). Although scans of the “food environment” in recreation facilities had been conducted in some other provinces, no formal scan had been completed in PEI. We now have a better understanding of where improvements can be made to the food environment in Island recreation settings. Findings from this scan show that many offerings do not support healthy eating. We encourage you to read the full Healthy Eating in PEI Recreation Settings: A provincial scan of food environments report to:
- Increase knowledge and awareness of: (a) the food environment of recreation settings on PEI; and (b) the effect of these environments on child and youth food and beverage choices.
- Create policy change to increase access to healthier food and beverage options in recreation settings.
Limiting unhealthy food and beverage options in settings where children and youth spend time can positively impact their overall health.
Action Starter Kit
Recreation facilities can support healthy food environments for children and youth as they already promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity and social connections.
Since 2018, the Children’s Nutrition Committee has been engaging with those who work in recreation facilities to discuss challenges, opportunities, and readiness to integrate healthy and affordable options within vending machines and canteens.
To assist facility and canteen operators and municipalities in transitioning to healthier food and beverage offerings in their recreation facilities, Healthy Eating in PEI Recreation Settings: Action Starter Kit has been created to provide tangible next steps.
Handbook for Healthy Eating in Recreation Facilities
In 2021, the Children's Nutrition Committee created the Handbook for Healthy Eating in Recreation Facilities. This guide is primarily a recipe book with healthy and delicious options for you to consider in your recreation facility. It also includes information such as menu planning for athletes, storage tips, and marketing strategies. All facilities were mailed a copy of this resource.
The recipe book is another tool which canteen operators, staff, and volunteers can use to ensure there are healthy choices being offered at their recreation facility. An explanatory video by registered dietitian Nancy Fong, who constructed and co-authored the recipe book provides an overview on using the handbook.
Canteen and vending machine revenues are very important to the operation of many recreation facilities. The recipe book can be a starting point to find an option or two which can be swapped in to the existing menu to offer more variety of healthy choices at facilities without completely eliminating popular items.
Venues who wish to being making changes to their menus are encouraged to use these resources. If there are further resources needed to implement some of these changes, such as the purchase of blenders, cold storage, or other necessary equipment, operators are encouraged to contact Recreation PEI for funding opportunities.
The Children’s Nutrition Committee has contributors and supporters from Heart & Stroke PEI, UPEI Department of Applied Human Sciences, Diabetes Canada Atlantic, Recreation PEI, Sport PEI, City of Charlottetown, Maximum Performance & Nutrition, and the PEI Department of Health & Wellness.