Chips and coke are no longer being offered to students at the school canteen, the modern menu is all about combating childhood obesity and increasing healthy food habits.
The new food and drink benchmark aims to be implemented in all NSW public schools by the end of 2019 and applies to school canteens and vending machines.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District health promotion officer Alexandra Walker said the revised Healthy School Canteen Strategy is based on the five food groups.
“Canteen menus are to have at least 75 per cent ‘everyday’ foods and drinks,” she said.
“This includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy foods, legumes, breads and cereals.
“Occasional foods should have a health star rating of 3.5 stars or above and meet portion size requirements.”
Sturt Public School is already compliant with the incoming strategy for healthy school canteens, according to their canteen manager Jo Klimpsch.
“One of our most popular items are the grilled chicken wrap and grilled chicken burgers, all made from scratch,” she said.
“We make homemade spaghetti bolognese and butter chicken and our beef mince nachos are made using dried wraps instead of corn chips, so they’re actually a bread product and not a salted chip.”
As the name suggests, ‘occasional’ food items are only to be consumed in small amounts and are not needed as part of a healthy diet.
Some examples of these foods at Sturt Public School, include two crumbed chicken tenders, two party pies pack or a yogurt ice-cream.
Soft drinks have been banned from all school canteens as there are no nutritional values, as have caffeinated drinks being sold in primary schools.
Ms Walker said the strategy is setting the tone in schools for healthy eating and putting into practice what they are learning in the classroom.
“We are trying to create supportive environments for healthy eating and exposing children to good food around them means that they are more likely to continue with healthy eating habits,” she said.
“It is everyone’s duty to decrease the obesity epidemic, including schools, parents, supermarkets; all different environments the children are involved in.”
While these strategies are important, canteen manager Ms Klimpsch said the ultimate decision comes down to the children and their parents.
“We can’t restrict what they’re eating, we’re not their parents however through friendly advice we can guide the students to healthier options, but the choice comes down to them and their parents,” she said.
The revised strategy is led by the Department of Education in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Health.