The revised Healthy School Canteen Strategy

The NSW Department of Education and the NSW Ministry of Health, the Catholic Education Commission NSW and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW have all contributed to the strategy.

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.
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