The school canteen is an integral part of the learning environment, and as such should operate in a manner that supports the health messages of curriculum. Schools* are required to follow the Department of Education’s Healthy Food and Drink (HFD) policy.
The HFD policy applies to all areas of the school where the Principal is responsible for the supply of food and drinks. For example, the canteen/food service (canteen), classroom rewards, excursions and camps, classroom cooking activities and school based fundraising. Principals are encouraged to promote consistent messages about healthy lifestyles in all school activities. Download our simple infographic for more information about HFD policy compliance.
The HFD policy is based on the:
- Australian Dietary Guidelines; Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
- Health Promoting Schools Framework
- Traffic light system of categorising items as green, amber or red.
Part of compliance includes developing of a school HFD policy which allows all members of the school community to have input and develops a sense of ‘ownership’ of the canteen with all sectors of the school. A sample policy template can be downloaded from the WASCA website.
* The HFD policy is mandated in all public schools. The Catholic Education Office has mandated a policy based on the Department of Education’s policy.
Not all schools in WA operate canteens. Some use outside providers such as delicatessens, service stations or catering companies to provide a food service to their school. It is recommended these schools also have a clear policy for the food and drink offered by outside service providers as it is equally important that all students have access to healthy choices and food that has been prepared in a hygienic manner. Outside service providers of food and drinks to students of Government schools must meet the Healthy Food and Drink Policy set by the Government.
When planning a menu for the canteen, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration, including the size of the school, number of lunches prepared, the number of people who work in the canteen and their level of expertise in preparing food, and the equipment available. However, the first step should be to check that the menu is consistent with the nutritional guidelines of the canteen policy document. If a Government or Catholic school, the menu must comply with the appropriate mandated policies. The menu should be planned to reflect the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The majority of choices available should be based on the core food groups and be predominantly those classified as “Green”, which may be supplemented by convenience products which may be classified as either ‘Green or Amber’. No items classified as ‘Red’ may be sold. The use of Star Choice™ Registered Products assists schools to select nutritionally preferable versions of favourite convenience products, such as pastries, hamburger patties, frankfurters, biscuits and cakes. The nutrient criteria for registration, ensures that these are approximately half the fat, sodium (salt) and sugar of their regular counterparts. However, although these products may represent a better nutritional choice than the full fat, sodium or sugar versions of similar foods, they should not be included on the menu to the exclusion of foods recommended for consumption by children and adolescents every day. The Department of Education & Training’s Healthy Food and Drink Policy reflects this.
A recent review of the Traffic light system for WA schools has resulted in changes to the colour coding of a small number of food and drink items. These changes are effective from 1 July 2017. For a list of changes that may impact your menu see the Traffic light changes document.
For more detailed assistance and food ideas for your school, please refer to Canteen Cuisine.
Click here to download the Canteen Cuisine order form.
Meeting the minimum standards
The Department of Education’s Healthy Food and Drink policy promotes food drinks and snacks being available in schools that support the consumption of a diet consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Childhood and adolescence are important periods of growth and development and for these to occur optimally, adequate energy and nutrients must be eaten.
When planning school menus, emphasis should be given to the following foods that contribute significantly to meeting students’ nutritional needs:
- Breads and cereal foods, e.g. rice, pasta, especially wholegrain varieties
- Fruit – preferably fresh, but including frozen and canned
- Vegetables – fresh, frozen and canned
- Reduced fat varieties of milk, cheese, yoghurt
- Lean meats, skin-free poultry, fish, eggs, baked beans and other legumes
- Plain water
The following table provides a guide to help schools and their canteen or food service comply with the Department of Education’s Healthy Food and Drink Policy.
Food and drinks in the first column are those classified ‘GREEN’ in the ‘traffic light’ system and are recommended for everyday consumption. The majority of what is offered on a canteen or food service menu should be from the ‘GREEN’ section and these should be promoted as the healthiest choices. A MINIMUM of 60% of all foods, drinks and snacks offered by the canteen must come from ‘GREEN’ choices.
Food and drinks in the ‘AMBER’ category in the ‘traffic light’ system are not recommended as ‘every day’ choices and their availability to students should be limited. NOT MORE THAN 40% of foods, drinks and snacks offered can be ‘AMBER’ products.
Star Choice™ Registered Products assist canteens to offer healthier versions of convenience pre-prepared meals, snacks and drinks.
Food and drinks in the third column are categorised as ‘RED’ in the ‘traffic light’ system and are not permitted in WA public school canteens or food services. There is ample opportunity to consume ‘RED’ food and drinks outside school hours at the discretion of parents and carers. ‘RED’ choices must be phased out during term 1, 2007 and not re-ordered.
Download a copy of “What’s on the menu” which shows examples of ‘GREEN’, ‘AMBER’ and ‘RED’ items.
These are EVERYDAY choices
- Cereal foods — wholegrain cereals, pasta, noodles, rice, cous cous, quinoa
- A variety of bread types including wholegrain/ wholemeal
- Vegetables and legumes e.g. stuffed potatoes, corn-on-cob, baked beans, 4 bean mix, garden salads, potato salad, coleslaw (using reduced fat dressings )
- Fruit, fresh and frozen, whole, fruit salad, sliced fruit
- Fruit canned in natural juice
- A variety of sandwich/roll fillings, preferably served with salad e.g. egg, reduced fat cheese, tuna, canned in spring water or brine, lean meats i.e. roast beef, yeast spreads, hummus
- Lean meats, fish, poultry
- Meals#, especially those with vegetables e.g. pasta bake, curry and rice, frittata, soup, sushi, rice paper rolls
- Reduced fat dairy products including:
– plain milk
– flavoured milk (375mL or less)
– plain and flavoured yoghurt
- Plain water
- Plain mineral water
and choose small serves. These are LIMITED
- Savoury breads such as garlic, herb and pizza bases
- Reduced fat pastry items#
- Frankfurts and sausages for hot dogs and/or sausage sizzles#
- Savoury commercial products, e.g. fish, chicken, potato portions, pizza#
- Hamburger patties#
- Processed meat e.g. ham, skin-free processed chicken
- Assorted cakes/biscuits or muffins#
- Sweet and savoury snack foods#
- Plain dried fruit
- Ice creams and icy poles#
- Reduced fat flavoured milk
(more than 375mL & less than 600mL)
- High schools only: reduced fat coffee flavoured milk (375mL or less)
- Full fat dairy products e.g. plain milk, yoghurt, cheese
- Full fat flavoured milk (375mL or less)
- 99% fruit juices (250mL or less) and no added sugar
- Dairy desserts# e.g. reduced fat custard, ice cream and mousse (milk/milk alternative listed as first ingredient)
NOTE: Reduced fat dairy recommended for children over the age of 2 years
- Full-fat pastry items
- Deep fried food of any description
- Sweet sandwich fillings including jam, nut spreads, honey or
- High fat sandwich meats including polony and salami
- Confectionery (e.g. chocolate, liquorice, cough lollies, and fruit juice based jellies)
- Sweet or savoury snack items that do not meet the criteria e.g. potato chips
- Soft drinks, cordial, sports drinks
- Reduced fat flavoured milk
(more than 600mL)
- Reduced fat coffee flavoured milk drink (more than 375mL)
- Full fat coffee flavoured milks all sizes
- High caffeine drinks (e.g. drinks containing Guarana)
- Chocolate coated and premium style ice-creams
- Desserts: jelly; jelly with fruit; dairy desserts high in energy
- Croissants, doughnuts, cream filled or iced buns/cakes, sweet pastries, slices
- Fruit juice (more than 250mL) and/or with added sugar or sweetener
- Water flavoured with fruit juice, sugar and/or sweetener
* Or meets the criteria for registration
* Nuts and savoury nut spreads do not appear in the table. Schools are advised to refer to the Department of Education’s Student Health Care policy and the Anaphylaxis Management Guidelines for Schools from the Department of Health before deciding whether or not to include nuts and nut spreads on the canteen menu.
For further food ideas and recipes specific to school canteens, see the Canteen Cuisine cookbook available from WASCA.
Click here to download sample menus: