Advancing an Edible Education: Government Consultation on Experiential Learning

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Author: Josie Di Felice

Posted: May 10, 2016

Categories: Edible Education Network / GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Ontario / Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy / Policy News

The Government of Ontario has initiated a consultation period seeking comments on the Future of Experiential Learning in Ontario until the end of May 2016, as the Ministry of Education is expanding experiential learning to provide students with a broader range of learning opportunities that are “connected to the community”.

To help inform the development of this policy for Ontario schools, the Ministry is seeking feedback from various stakeholders, such as educators, business representatives, community organizations, non-profit agencies, and postsecondary institutions.

Building on the Education Strategy released in 2014, which put a clear emphasis on the need for schools to go beyond building academic skills, this consultation process gives Sustain Ontario, the Ontario Edible Education Network and members the opportunity to push for good food education as an integral part of that broader learning.

As with the Education Strategy consultations, Sustain Ontario’s Edible Education Network wants to highlight the invaluable skills built through school gardens, cooking classes, and other food literacy initiatives, encouraging the government to take a whole-school approach to healthy eating and to ensure that food literacy opportunities are firmly established within all schools.

The organizations we work with provide a wealth of experiential learning opportunities for children and youth in schools across Ontario. These include support with establishing school gardens and visiting community gardens, cooking / food skills programs, farm visits, and visits from farmers, all which support a wide range of experiential learning opportunities.

Below are the questions asked in the consultation on Experiential Learning:

  1. What are some innovative opportunities for experiential learning that might be possible within your organization under the proposed policy framework?
  2. How can you support students, during their experiential learning opportunity, in developing the skills needed for success in the future, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration?
  3. What are some of the challenges or barriers to your participation in providing these experiential learning opportunities? What are the solutions?
  4. As a business or community organization, how can the ministry support your efforts in providing experiential learning opportunities for all students, as outlined in the policy framework?


We believe that food can be a powerful catalyst for acquiring the personal skills that contribute to long-term success. Organizations that teach food literacy regularly embed skills such as critical thinking and collaboration into their activities.  Hands-on food literacy education initiatives such as gardening and cooking easily lend themselves to real-world problem-solving and communications. They bring curriculum material to life because everyone needs to eat and has a connection to food. These activities also inherently require students to think about complex issues including our health, the environment, the economy, and our broader food system.

We are very pleased that the Government of Ontario is in support of greater opportunities for experiential learning in Ontario and hope that the new policy framework will enable greater opportunities for hands-on food systems learning in our schools.

To provide feedback, be sure to offer your comments here before the end of May.