Hosting Healthy Sporting Events

Organization Sponsor: Ever Active Schools


Program Description

Ever Active Schools (EAS) and the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) are supporting healthy changes in Alberta school sporting events: they want them to include healthy eating and believe Albertans are on the same page. In a recent survey of Alberta school coaches, teachers, and athletic directors, 76% of respondents indicated they would support a policy mandating healthy food options at sporting events. Further, 85% of survey respondents would support prohibiting advertising of sugar-sweetened beverages at these events and 83% would support restricting sales of sugar-sweetened beverages at school concessions/canteens.

This project is designed as a pilot. Two schools were selected to participate so that through their
experience, and in reflecting on the experience, a tool kit could be created that would make it
easier for other schools to learn from the two pilot experiences and avoid barriers and challenges
faced by the pilots. The end goal is to create a package of experiences and recommendations that
can then be carried forward to influence policy implementation at the provincial and national
level in schools.

Funding Sources: 

Alberta Healthy School Community
Wellness Fund and ASAA

Strategies For Sustainability: 

EAS is a provincial lead in comprehensive schools health and we practice this approach
through the engagement of home, school and community. The goal is to develop a culture of wellness throughout the school community and promote this culture to the broader community.

Impact Of Program: 

This project has been hugely successful in that it has shown us where the current gaps in
knowledge are in Alberta, and thus gives us direction for development of education and
promotion materials as well as the creation of a provincially available toolkit. EAS contracted a dietitian to put together suggestions for a “Toolkit” that could be made available to schools as they move to creating healthy sporting events at their schools.

Evaluation Tools: 

The survey results indicated that while schools were supportive of and interested in providing healthy meals and snacks at sporting events, there was a gap in implementation of the Alberta
Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth. While a large majority of respondents indicated awareness of the Guidelines, 39% were not sure if their schools followed them and 19% stated their schools do not follow the Guidelines.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Ever Active Schools’ main objective with this project is to influence policy creation around
hosting healthy sporting events at schools. The major deliverables we hope to have come from this project are suggestions towards a toolkit for schools to use in order to streamline the implementation of healthy nutritional offerings at sporting events, as well as the data and feedback on successes and challenges at each of the pilots.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

There were a number of small steps and adjustments we made in order to make the healthy food more appealing and ultimately to get event attendees to purchase these foods, and to make the canteen staff, volunteers, and owners want to or be able to sell them. First, while the purpose of the canteen is to generate revenue, the schools found that if they priced the healthy foods less expensively (with funding from EAS), there was more purchase incentive. To address the issue of food spoilage, we found that freezing some of the yogurt or drinks did the trick, thereforeproducing less waste.

Length and Stage of Project: 

January to June of 2012

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