The role of school leaders

School leaders play a vital role in engaging their community and promoting shared responsibility for healthy choices.

Why should school leaders support the Healthy School Canteen Strategy?

The school curriculum plays a key role in providing students with the skills and opportunity to learn about healthy food and drink choices. Good nutrition matters for all children and young people, as it helps them to grow and learn. Improving access to healthy food and drink choices in the school canteen will positively influence students’ health and wellbeing, including their attention span and classroom behaviour.

School principals are responsible for leadership of the Healthy School Canteen Strategy in their school. As with most initiatives at school, strong and enthusiastic leadership will make a difference to the success of the canteen and demonstrate the value placed on student health and wellbeing. Feedback from a range of NSW school community stakeholders rated principal engagement for the Healthy School Canteen Strategy as one of the most important types of support – second only to training for canteen managers – needed to achieve and sustain a healthy school canteen.

School canteens are well placed to contribute to the objectives of the Premier's Priority to reduce childhood overweight and obesity rates by 5% over 10 years, down from 22% in 2015. The key focus of the revised Healthy School Canteen Strategy is to increase student access to healthy food and drink options, to reduce intake of unhealthy foods and to encourage children to drink water rather than sugar-sweetened drinks.

How can school leaders support the Healthy School Canteen Strategy?

School leaders play a vital role in engaging their community and promoting shared responsibility for healthy choices through the school canteen and to localise the strategy to their own setting.

The following enablers were identified through consultation with stakeholders:

  1. Support the canteen manager and staff (including volunteers) to implement the Healthy School Canteen Strategy.
  2. Collaborate with the canteen to plan, support and monitor implementation.
  3. Harness the support of the community to market and promote the strategy.
  4. Link the Healthy School Canteen Strategy to curriculum areas and the school's student wellbeing approaches.
  5. Involve students and increase their voice to solve any implementation barriers.
  6. Support strategies to engage volunteers.
  7. Develop an implementation and reporting timeline, as required.
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