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.
We have also developed a range of compliance checklists:
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.
Meeting the minimum standards
Check out the latest results from the HFD survey conducted by WASCA and Curtin University (2016).
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
When determining what a serve of fruits and vegetable are use this handy What is a serve checklist, it also has a great Fruit & Veg September: 30 day challenge calendar.
Traffic light system of categorising food and drinks
Download a copy of “What’s on the menu” which shows examples of ‘GREEN’, ‘AMBER’ and ‘RED’ items.Food and drinks 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 classified as ‘AMBER’ 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.
Food and drinks 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.
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.