Coast schools receive tick for healthy canteens

Students Ethan, Nicole, Ryan, Tyler and Dean with healthy foods from the Kariong Mountains High School canteen

All 16 government secondary schools on the Central Coast have received a tick for health food and drink options from school canteens, having been assessed as meeting standards outlined in the NSW Healthy School Canteens Strategy.

One school which is very aware of healthy eating is Kariong Mountains High School.

Principal Anne Vine said the strategy helps teach children and parents on the foods which are healthy and also taste nice.

“There is significant body of research which says if you have a healthy body, you have a healthy mind and we cannot separate the two,” Vine said.

“Students are with us for a significant amount of time and, therefore, we have to look at how we’re putting into action what we are teaching in the class and what we know to be good practice.

“Even before the healthy canteen strategy I started to see healthier choices being adopted.

“However, what this strategy has done is to better educate the canteen staff on what kids should have all the time and what they should not.

“Eating healthy means that we as parents and teachers need to become more creative.”

Since the Healthy School Canteens Strategy was introduced in 2017, all NSW Government primary, secondary and central schools with a canteen have been required to have their menu assessed against food and drink criteria.

The Strategy aims to foster a culture of healthy eating in schools by promoting and increasing student access to healthier foods and drinks, while decreasing access to less healthy options.

It seeks to address statistics that more than 1 in 5 (23%) of children aged 5–16 are above a healthy weight range.

Central Coast Local Health District said not only did all 16 of the government secondary schools in the region meet the Strategy, 94% or primary schools also made the grade.

“It’s fantastic to see all of our Government secondary school canteens offering high standards of nutrition that can help set children on a pathway to a healthy lifestyle,” Health Promotion Officer, Chad Partridge, said.

“Schools in the region are supported to help meet healthy food and drink criteria by Central Coast Local Health District’s Health Promotion and Nutrition Services.

“The canteen managers have gone to great lengths to ensure their menus meet the criteria set out in the Strategy, and it’s particularly pleasing when we are able to see the support we offer has helped them along the way.”

Under the Strategy, all NSW Government schools are currently required to re-submit their menus for assessment against the criteria every two years, with independent and Catholic schools also encouraged to participate.

“Canteens meeting the Strategy are proud to display their certificate of achievement demonstrating their commitment to the health and wellbeing of students,” Partridge said.

“We are currently working with a handful of Catholic and independent schools on the Coast, and would love to support more of these schools to meet the Strategy”

Terry Collins and Jacinta Counihan