School Canteen Guidelines

Have you ever wondered what your local school canteen is serving up your kid for lunch? Or better yet, what your kids are spending their $5 or $10 lunch allowance on at the school canteen?

School Canteens play a huge role in building healthy eating habits and shaping our nation of the future. Unless you are home schooling your children or packing your kids their very own nutritional lunch boxes every day. Then most families would provide them a small lunch allowance to spend at the school canteen and if the most nutritional food that they have sold is a bucket of chips or meat pie. Then you can be sure that your kids aren’t really getting the most nutritional value eating lunch every day at the school canteen.

Kids have a tendency to exert high energy at playtimes but also need to have the focus and concentration when in class and the only way to achieve this is to ensure that they’re loaded up with snacks and lunches that are packed full of nutrition from all the food groups and a meat pie every day definitely won’t cover all the five groups.

School canteens have gone through some shifts dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years. It is only recent that it is great to see a positive change the government has provided through implementing the National Healthy School Canteens Project which started in 2008. This project was to provide guidance and training the assist canteen managers in making healthier food and drink choices for school canteens. By providing a category system identifying food and drinks that fit the GREEN, AMBER or REDclassification. Green is meant to be food that you can have anytime, whereas Amber category is food that is more of treat. While the Red category are categories that are meant to help canteen managers make local arrangement to not allow to be sold in canteens.

You will be please to know that the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines is based around the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Which include:

GUIDELINE 1 – To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs

GUIDELINE 2 – Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these food groups

GUIDELINE 3 – Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol

–        Biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods

–        Food and drinks containing added salt

–        Food and drinks containing added sugars including confectionary and sweetened soft drinks and cordials.

GUIDELINE 4 – Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding

GUIDELINE 5 – Care for your food; prepare and store it safely

With the help of the NHSC guidelines in place, this information has helped school canteens make healthier and smarter food options for kids to ensure they are getting more nutritional packed meals during their snacks and lunchtime and incorporating foods from all the five food groups to sell.

The Five Food Groups include:

Vegetables – Of all sorts of colours including legumes and beans

Fruit – Including Pome, Citrus, Stone, Tropical fruits and Berries

Grains – mostly wholegrain and high in fibre, wheats, oats rice, barley, quinoa, corn

Meats and Nuts – Lean meats, lean poultry, fish and seafood, chicken or duck egg, nuts

Dairy – non-flavoured milk, soy, yoghurts and cheese

To understand more of the NHSC visit the following resources:

The Department of Health  -National Healthy School Canteen  Project

The Role of the School Canteen –  – Promoting healthy eating

Healthy Kids Association  – School Canteens