Step 7: Promotion and Community Engagement
In Step 7, we look at promoting and displaying Everyday options for a successful healthy canteen.
Promoting Everyday options will help:
- encourage students to choose Everyday food instead of Occasional food
- assist students to make the right choices
- provide a link between the curriculum and the canteen
- teach students about different types of foods and meals they may not eat at home
- reinforce the idea that eating healthy is normal
Encourage students to keep choosing Everyday foods and drinks at canteen by using reward cards. You can download these in the resource centre. Students can get a free snack for choosing healthier options. For example, with every tenth purchase of an Everyday hot or cold food item, they get rewarded with an Everyday snack of their choice.
Everyday and Occasional symbols
Use Everyday and Occasional symbols on your menu and price lists to show how meals are categorised. This will also appeal to parents who are helping students fill out lunch orders.
Posters and signs
Use signs and displays (these can be home-made, commercial, or get the students involved!) to attract customers to healthier choices. Display stickers, colourful posters, and write fun facts next to items.
The menu is an advertisement for the canteen! Boost the demand for healthier options by giving the menu a makeover. Try the tips and tricks of Menu Science we looked at in Step #6.
Let students know that healthy Everyday choices are affordable and are a great price. Here are some ideas for creating meal deals or combos with Everyday items:
- Pair regular items on the menu with new or ‘limited time only’ Everyday items
- Give your meal deal or combos names to spark interest eg. Monday Mystery Meal
- Switch up your meal deals to get students coming to your canteen frequently to see what’s on offer
- Emphasise the value of purchasing a meal with three items instead of a single item
- Keep the meal deals exciting with items that are different in colour and flavour
Celebrations are an excellent opportunity to showcase healthier choices. Special menu items can be made available weekly or as a once-off around celebrations and events like:
- Sporting events eg. Invictus Games, grand final week, world cups
- Holidays eg. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween
- Fundraisers eg. Corn on the Cob (alternative to sausage sizzle)
A theme is a fun way to engage your school community in different menus and specials.
- Choose a cuisine and make special menu items eg. Mexican Mondays, Italian Day
- Encourage students to eat fruit and vegetables by having ‘Fruity Fridays’ or ‘Veggie Wednesdays’
Competitions and games
Discuss with the Principal ways to incorporate healthy eating into the school community such as:
- Students grow vegetables in the school garden and supply these to the canteen at harvest time
- Students grow herbs and supply regularly to the canteen
- When teachers are planning topics for eg HSIE, they can plan for the canteen to prepare foods from particular cultures eg Vietnamese rice paper rolls or Indian Samosas
- Classes can be rewarded for effort with a healthy fruit platter for eg the cleanest classroom of the week
- Poster competitions displaying and promoting fresh healthy foods
Start ‘fruit and veg-ucation’ early
- For younger students consider colouring in different fruits and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, carrot, spinach, potato and corn
- Have a ‘show and tell’ for their favourite fruit and vegetable
Linking with the classroom curriculum
- Ask the teachers to consider including fruits and vegetables in their program. For example, in Comprehension and English, children can write a paragraph on their favourite fruit or vegetable. Ask them to describe the colour, texture, the taste, what it feels like when they bite it, and why it is good for you
- Work with Home Economics staff and encourage them to get their students to create a healthy canteen menu and recipes. Or do an exercise where the Home Economics students provide a healthy meal offering to students.
Champions for healthy eating
Discuss how athletes eat well – major sporting teams employ their own nutritionists to ensure players eat healthy while they are at training! If athletes visit your school, ask them to promote healthy eating to students.
Activity 1: Meal deals
Think about three meal deals you can offer, and design a plan to promote these on your menu using posters and signage in the canteen.
Activity 2: Poster competition for your canteen
Think about how you can get the students involved in a poster competition for the school canteen.
Activity 3: Community engagement
Think about engaging your community. Consider the ages of your students.
- How many students are there?
- Are there students with certain food allergies?
- What is the cultural mix of your school?
- How many these differences impact what the students would want on your menu?