Choosing healthy food and drink options for special events
Use this list to help you plan for the food and beverage choices to be served at your special event.
Meals and snacks
- Widely promote healthy food and drink options at your event.
- Make water easily available and free of charge.
- Try to have plenty of vegetables and fruits (Health Canada) as part of a snack or meal. For example, serve a fruit tray or fruit salad with yogurt, vegetables with hummus, or a salad as a side.
- Include a variety of whole grains (Health Canada) like whole grain bread, wild rice, oats, quinoa, or whole grain pasta.
- Choose protein foods (Health Canada) that come from plants most often. For example: chickpea curry, bean salad, lentil soup, or vegetarian chili.
- Choose fresh lean meat instead of processed more often, like chicken, pork, fish, beef, or wild game.
- In the event of a wild game (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) dinner or event, the Special Event Food Service Permit – Vendor Application form (104 KB) must be completed at least 20 days before your event occurs.
- Serve dips and dressings on the side. For example, salad dressings, hummus, plain yogurt, or bean dip.
- When possible, use healthier cooking methods when preparing food. Try broiling, baking, roasting, grilling or steaming.
- Choose a local caterer that is inspected by a public health inspector or by an environmental health officer with Health Canada First Nations & Inuit Health Branch. View a food premises’ inspection results by using the Check Before You Go! site.
- Consider choosing a caterer who uses inspected and locally grown food (from the catchment area and/or Ontario).
- Create a list of healthy foods and beverages you would like sponsors to donate.
- For more recipe ideas visit: UnlockFood, Cookspiration, and Health Canada.
- Make water the drink of choice (Health Canada) at your event. Be sure to use municipal water instead of bottled water when possible.
- Other healthy drink options include: plain milk (2%,1%, or skim), unflavoured fortified plant-based beverages like soy beverage, and unsweetened coffee and tea.
- Provide milk instead of cream for coffee and tea.
- Discourage the use of unnecessary disposable items. For example, disposable tablecloths, straws, and stir sticks.
- Use reusable dishware, glassware, and utensils. Bring multiple sets and always ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing of these items.
- Remember to have recycling and compost bins available on site whenever possible.
- Avoid ordering too much food by knowing your head count.
- Use large containers for condiments and beverages instead of individual packets or bottles.
- Ask attendees to bring their own reusable water bottle, mug for hot drinks, or food containers.
- Consider the impact of food on the environment (Health Canada) when making food and beverage choices.
Events with multiple vendors
- Event organizers should fill in the Organizer Application (1.74 MB) of the Special Event Food Service Permit and should encourage individual vendors to complete the Vendor Application (1.76 MB).
- Allow more vendors that offer healthy foods and beverages, including vegetarian and vegan options.
- Allow fewer vendors that offer less healthy food and beverage choices. For example, desserts, candy, deep fried foods, and sugary drinks.
- Ask vendors to offer smaller portions of less healthy foods.
- Choose healthier fats when preparing dishes from scratch (Health Canada) like vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and soft margarine.
For more information, call 705.522.9200, ext. 257 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
This item was last modified on April 9, 2020