Schools exist within a community context and so does their food environment. Students respond to the food-related signals both inside and outside the school. Unfortunately, urban and rural planners have allowed fast food operations to invade many school neighbourhoods. On many levels, the battle is between the parents (who often provide nourishing food for their kids to take to school), the school (which attempts to create a positive food environment), and the fast food chains (that know they have a semi-captive audience). The consequence is that solutions must take account of all these realities. Ontario studies reveal the dilemma in their assessment of food standards that were relatively recently introduced. They conclude that policy-compliant foods have a relatively high cost, and this, coupled with the proximity of fast foods, has reduced the effectiveness of the policy/regulatory changes (Vine & Elliot, 2014; Vine, Elliot & Raine, 2014). Out of this, an approach that includes social, environmental, and educational dimensions is necessary (Chaleunsouk & Kutsyuruba, 2014).
Solutions must also be rooted in food literacy, food citizenship, food justice, critical food pedagogies, and healthy school promotion. McKenna (2010) identifies 5 areas for policy intervention: (1) food availability, including nutrition standards, cafeterias, and school food programs; (2) the food environment within and outside the school (i.e. marketing, fast food outlets near schools, eating settings and staff availability); (3) health education; (4) health services and counseling; and (5) family and community outreach. These areas are addressed in the solutions.