14 August 2020

The Wollondilly Health Alliance has challenged local schools to adopt a healthy canteen menu.

We all know children are influenced by what they see around them, including what food is on offer, what they see their friends, family and other role models eat, and how food is advertised.

A healthy school canteen is one way to create a healthy food environment and the NSW Education Department’s Healthy School Canteen Strategy aims to make healthy choices easy for students.

The Wollondilly Health Alliance, a partnership between Wollondilly Shire Council, South Western Sydney Local Health District and South Western Sydney Primary Health Network, has been supporting local schools by offering prizes for those taking on the healthy school canteen challenge.

So far, 12 of the 14 public primary schools in Wollondilly have put in a fantastic effort and are now offering a range of healthy food and drinks to their students.

The canteen strategy has four key components: asking schools to fill 75 per cent of their menu with “everyday foods”; selling healthy drinks and no sugar-sweetened beverages; ensuring packaged foods meet portion limits and have a health star rating of 3.5+; and ensuring only healthier options are promoted to students.

Wollondilly Mayor Matthew Deeth said it was great to see the Wollondilly Health Alliance encouraging and supporting schools to provide healthy eating options for our kids.

“As a dad I certainly know how hard it can be to get your kids to eat healthy,” he said. “There are so many pressures and temptations on them to do otherwise, so having the right choices in our canteens is really important.”

Through this initiative almost 2,700 students across the Wollondilly Shire now have access to healthy food in their school canteen.

All Education Department schools were required to adopt the strategy by December 2019, with all school sectors (including Catholic and Independent schools) encouraged to adopt the guidelines.