How We Educate Students to Make Intentional Nutritional Decisions

Martin Lapointe
About the author : Martin Lapointe

Senior Vice President - Sodexo Campus Canada

Published on : 11/21/22
  • Nutrition plays a crucial role in our children’s development and growth, fueling body and mind and enhancing their overall academic and athletic performance.

    Whether for a quick breakfast or with friends at lunchtime, right before expanding their energies at sporting events or band practice, the way young people fuel their bodies has an impact on their ability to perform activities. With physical literacy complementing most academic programs, it is fundamental for students to develop the confidence to make the right food choices at every turn.

    So, how can they feel empowered to do so?

    The youth today — call them Gen Z and Gen Alpha — and their parents are quite attuned to the need for balanced nutrition to elevate athletic and academic performance. 

    Here are some facts:

    • 78% of Canadian youth look at food labels to see what is in the food they eat1
    • 70% of Canadian parents want to provide their children with healthy food options2
    • 91% of Canadians believe food literacy should be taught in school3

    This data clearly demonstrates the increased need for nutritional education in schools. Therefore, food service providers have an obligation to provide tasty nutritious meals to our kids.

    But having the right food and information available is not enough. Providing young people with easy-to-understand messages about the influence of dietary choices can help them make intentional decisions today that will stay with them in the long run.


    Priming Students for Learning and Success

    A bunch of fresh beets with the words Beet the Competition written on topIn 2021, Sodexo Campus launched and implemented Powering Performance for its K-12 schools. We strongly believe that we have the obligation to provide far more than high-quality food to young people. We have an obligation to provide information about making the right food and drink choices

    Guided by insights, Sodexo’s nutritional and culinary experts have used the science behind food to create the Powering Performance program and educational initiatives.

    A range of meals as part of a balanced diet are put together with over 100 recipes specifically developed for the program and fitting within four key pillars. 


    The Four Central Pillars of Powering Performance

    • Focus: to sharpen the minds and provide mental endurance
    • Strengthen: to grow and fortify healthy bodies
    • Sustain: to give stamina for everyday demands
    • Recover: to rejuvenate mentally and physically

    Recipes are designed to balance vitamins and essential nutrients according to the specific pillars. For instance, meals from the Focus pillar are designed to help students sustain concentration with the goal of reaching their full academic potential. These meals include nutrients such as electrolytes, choline, antioxidants, carbohydrates, and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids.

    The science behind eggs.
    Choline is an essential nutrient known for its role in brain and visual development. Choline intakes for children fall well under adequate intakes, but fortunately, egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline. Kids aged 9-13 years old need 375mg per day and one egg provides roughly 147mg.


    Engaging Students with Strong Ambassadors

    Education plays a crucial role in the success and value of this program. We worked with two brand ambassadors to support and help teach school children about healthy eating through live and virtual info sessions and meet-and-greet events.

    Melissa Hardy

    In addition to being an accomplished Olympian, Melissa Hardy is Sodexo Campus Canada’s sports dietician. She helped develop our program through nutritional research, adapting our recipes to the four pillars, and creating nutritional educational material and statements for each pillar.

    In addition, Melissa has also met students and parents virtually to discuss the benefits of healthy eating and debunk nutrition myths. Her knowledge, experience, and ability to verbalize the key messages to various age groups were recognized by our client.

    Carolyn Green, Head of Junior School, York House School, says:

    “Melissa is knowledgeable and passionate about student wellness […]. Throughout the workshop, parents were engaged from beginning to end on how their children can reach their full potential in their health and well-being, academic and sports performance with the Powering Performance program.”

    Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

    An award-winning athlete and scholar, Laurent Duverney-Tardif is a 2020 Super Bowl Champion, a McGill University medical school graduate, and our Powering Performance ambassador. Since March 2022, he has met with over 1,200 students, both virtually and in person at schools with the simple goal of educating students, parents, and faculty about the importance of healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle between academic and athletic activities.

    He shares his expertise on healthy eating, the importance of physical activity, and how food can improve mental and physical well-being. He also speaks about his experience as an elite professional athlete, but also, more importantly, as a student-athlete. His message is clear: healthy eating helps him perform in both aspects of his life — professional football and medicine — and both are needed for him to live a balanced life, physically and mentally. 


    This program directly impacts the health of over 6,000 kids in 8 private schools across the country.

    What our Clients Say

    Clients have stated that the program supports their mission and help deliver a message of healthy eating in their institutions.

    “The Powering Performance program is an outstanding tool that provides our student-athletes and coaches the opportunity to be very intentional about their nutritional choices. This resource targets specific foods that will help optimize athletic performance and identifies the benefits of healthy eating.” – Lou Cafazzo, Director of Athletics, Appleby College.

    “By establishing a relationship with Powering Performance, we can ensure that our student-athletes will be properly prepared both from a strategic and nutritional approach. This will enhance their strength, stamina, and overall athletic ability.” – Mike Maurovitch, Athletic Director, Selwyn House.

    Committing to Power Performance

    We are committed to providing our team’s experience to build innovative educational tools and creative menus for the school communities that we serve to help support our partnerships and our youths’ growth. We are dedicated to continually adapting programs and services in a way that best meets student wellness needs.

    If you’d like to know how we can power your students’ performances, reach out to our experts.


    (1)The Human Project, Zeno Group, 2016; (2)Healthy Eating in Ontario: What Do We Know?, Nutrition Resource Centre, 2017; (3)Dalhousie University, Agri-Food Analytics Lab “COVID Food Literacy”, 2021