Introducing the Healthy School Canteen

Apples from Flickr via Wylio© 2013 Devika, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

We keep hearing about the changes to the way NSW School Canteens provide healthy food for our children but what does it really mean? Here, we will try to provide you with as much information as possible on the new direction our Canteen will be heading in. The information provided below gives an overview of the changes and has been extracted from the NSW Government’s Healthy School Canteen website (Click here for the link to the website).

“The new NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy is a joint NSW Health and Education initiative. The aim of the strategy is to establish a healthy food and drink culture in our schools, and will contribute to the NSW Premiers Priority to reduce obesity in NSW kids over the next 10 years.

 The revised strategy has been informed by a comprehensive evidence report and a consultation process that included canteen managers, school leaders, health professionals, the food industry, school students and parents to understand the barriers and enablers for increasing healthy food and drink choices in NSW school canteens. Download the accessible version of the discussion paper (DOCX 111 KB) that was released in July 2016 to inform the public consultation process.

Public schools will transition to the revised strategy over a three year period (2017 – 2019). Catholic and independent schools are also encouraged to participate in the strategy. The transition will be responsive to canteen operating arrangements, product availability, rural and remote locations and community and cultural expectations.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the national labelling system that provides Health Star Ratings (HSRs) on the front of packaged food and drinks forms the basis of the minimum food and drink criteria for the revised Healthy School Canteen Strategy. The new food and drink criteria replaces the traffic light system under the previous strategy.

Food and drink criteria

Target minimum benchmarks for all school canteens
Everyday food and drinks Occasional food and drinks
At least ¾ of the menu. No more than ¼ of the menu.
No Health Star Rating (HSR) cut-off. Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 stars and above.
Portion limits for flavoured milk, juice and ready-to-eat meals. Portion limits for all Occasional food and drinks.
Display, favourably price, promote and advertise Everyday choices. Occasional food and drinks not promoted at point of sale.

*Sugary drinks are not to be sold in NSW public schools.

Schools will be supported and encouraged to achieve higher benchmarks for healthy food and drink options in their canteens.

What’s changed?

  • Two categories (Everyday and Occasional food and drinks) will replace the three traffic-light categories.
  • There will no longer be two ‘Red’ food days per term. However, at the discretion of the principal a school may choose to invite the canteen to cater for a special event, such as a school fair, or school celebration. On such occasions, menu items can align with the school’s plans enabling the school canteen to be fully integrated as part of the school celebration or special event.


Together with the School, Your P & C run Canteen is committed to the implementation of the new strategy so expect some changes throughout the year to what is available in our canteen. Our menu’s will be changing in line with the change in the policy commencing with the release of our Term 2 & 3 Winter Menu 2017.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Revised Healthy Canteen Strategy and what it means to our Canteen, please do not hesitate to contact us! We are still getting our heads around it as well!  Our Canteen Managers are able to assist you too, so don’t be afraid to ask!


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