Healthier menus for school canteens

Published 28th February, 2017

School canteens will promote freshly made foods such as sandwiches, pastas and stir fries and stock only those packaged goods with a minimum 3.5 star Health Star Rating under an overhaul of menus announced today.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes today released the Healthy School Canteens Strategy that offers simpler, easier to understand menus consistent with the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The strategy replaces the current “traffic light” system in schools, which experts have found to be overly complex and too narrow in its consideration of nutrition.

“Providing parents and children with healthier options in school canteens is just one of the ways we can move towards achieving our priority target to reduce childhood obesity by five per cent by 2025,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Obesity has significant health impacts for children with around one in five NSW children between the ages of five and 16 being overweight or obese."

Under the new strategy, fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and stir fries will make up at least 75 per cent of the menu. Canteens will be encouraged to promote this category of food.

“Occasional foods”, which will make up the remaining 25 per cent, will need to have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars or higher. The Health Star Rating is a Federal Government initiative that assigns a rating from 0.5 stars to 5 stars for packaged food based on its overall nutritional profile.

Pies, sausage rolls and pizzas can be available at all times as occasional foods providing they are above the 3.5 star rating. Some brands already available meet this standard. Cake stalls or fundraising initiatives will not be affected by the changes.

Mr Stokes said the new strategy would reassure parents that food sold in school canteens is healthy for their children.

“This is not about restricting choice – it’s about ensuring the choices of food available are healthy ones,” Mr Stokes said.

“This is a simpler, easier to understand approach that is consistent with Federal Government guidelines on healthy food.”

The strategy will be phased in over three years so that schools and the food industry have time to adjust.

The new strategy follows extensive consultation with canteen managers, school leaders, health professionals, the food industry, school students and parents.

The NSW Department of Education, the NSW Ministry of Health, the Catholic Education Commission NSW and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW all contributed to the strategy.

Further information is available at: healthyschoolcanteens.nsw.gov.au

Published 28th February, 2017