Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the implementation of the Ontario School Food and Beverage Policy (P/PM 150) from the perspective of secondary-school students.
Methods: This research, informed by the ANGELO framework, undertook three focus groups with secondary students (n = 20) in 2 school boards representing both high- and low-income neighbourhoods in fall 2012. Focus groups were transcribed verbatim for subsequent analysis. Key themes were generated deductively from the research objectives and inductively as they emerged from transcripts.
Results: Perceived impacts of P/PM 150 included high-priced policy-compliant food for sale, lower revenue generation, and food purchased off-campus. Limited designated eating spaces, proximity to external, nonpolicy-compliant food, and time constraints acted as key local level barriers to healthy eating.
Conclusions: Pricing strategies are needed to ensure that all students have access to nutritious food, particularly in the context of vulnerable populations. Recognition of the context and culture in which school nutrition policies are being implemented is essential. Future research to explore the role of public health dietitians in school nutrition policy initiatives and how to leverage local resources and stakeholder support in low income, rural and remote populations is needed.