NSW school canteens lauded in new report

NSW school canteens lauded in new report

NSW is taking the most action of any Australian government to improve the healthiness of foods in school canteens and hospitals, according to a new report.

The Food Policy Index, released this week by Deakin University, found that NSW leads the country in improving healthy food options while other states lag behind in this important area.

A 2018 survey found that 57.6% of parents are concerned children may struggle to maintain a healthy weight in life and be at risk of serious disease (51.2%) as a result of poor food choices.

To combat this, the NSW Government has begun overhauling school canteen menus to ensure that fruit, vegetables and freshly made food make up at least 75% of food offered to young people on school grounds.

The Healthy School Canteen Strategy was developed by the NSW Department of Education and the NSW Ministry in consultation with Catholics Schools NSW and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW.

The lead author of the latest report, associate professor Gary Sacks, said all states and territories needed to ensure schools were a healthy place for every Australian child, no matter where they lived.

“There are really good policies around the country focused on making school canteens healthier, but not all schools follow the rules, there’s no consistency,” Sacks said.

The NSW Premier’s Priority, which aims to reduce overweight and obesity rates among children by 5% by 2025, was prompted by 2015 figures that showed around one in five NSW children between the ages of five and 16 were overweight or obese, putting them at risk of poor health.

Under the NSW strategy all school canteens have until December this year to increase healthy food and drink options to 75% of the menu.