Principal Rene Bibaud said the school expected to lose some profits from cafeteria sales. (CBC)

Ottawa's public high school students avoided the cafeteria this past school year causing food sales to drop by almost $1 million, according to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Many students stayed away from lunchtime's old faithful, the cafeteria, during the first year of Ontario's healthy food policy banning such popular items as fried foods and sodas.

The public board reported $900,000 in lost sales as a result, which they say helps pay for school activities such as field trips, academic tournaments, school clubs and sports teams.

OCDSB cafeteria sales
YearRevenueCommission $Commission (%)

The Catholic school board also reported an 80 per cent drop in its vending machine sales.

Nepean High School, for example, lost about $4,000 on commission from its cafeteria and vending machine sales.

Cafeteria sales drop across Ontario

The loss in profits has been happening all year long at schools across the province, including in Toronto and Windsor. The Toronto District School Board has said its cafeterias face a $700,000 loss this year and could shut down some unprofitable cafeterias.

Catholic school board cafeteria sales
YearRevenueCommission ($)Commission (%)

Premier Dalton McGuinty acknowledged the schools' concerns last month but stuck to his guns.

"We put a man on the moon 40 years ago. Don't tell me that we can't make healthy, delicious, tasty, attractive food for teenagers in the province of Ontario in 2012," he told Toronto reporters in May.

Ottawa schools also said they were prepared for fewer cafeteria patrons.

"Well, I'm not shocked," said Nepean High principal Rene Bibaud. "I think we were cautious coming into this school year."


Students CBC News spoke to said the healthier alternatives were not worth paying for at the high school cafeteria. (CBC)

Some students CBC spoke to were not impressed with less flavour to items such as the pizza, which is now whole grain and no longer features cheese.

Another popular cafeteria order, fries, was also taken off the menu at Ontario high schools and potatoes were baked in olive oil.

But officials at Ottawa's public school board are not complaining about a declining profit margin since students' health is at stake.

They do say, though, parents would have to pay more to run activities such as school clubs to make up for the loss.