Menus at Australian state schools could do better according to the results of research compiled for online advocacy group The Parents’ Jury. A review of 263 school menus across Australia identified that 30% of surveyed primary schools and less than 19% of surveyed secondary schools are compliant with nutrition guidelines.
Western Australia, where compliance is compulsory, leads the way with 62% of surveyed menus adhering to the state’s Healthy Food and Drink policy. The poorest performing states/territories are the ACT with 5%, Victoria with 16% and Queensland with 18% of surveyed menus complying with their individual policies and guidelines.
In spite of the healthy eating messages consistently taught in Australian schools, the research found that 56% of all surveyed menus feature chocolate or other forms of confectionary and over 96% surveyed schools feature pastry products as a regular part of the menu. Over 38% of menus across all surveyed secondary schools feature soft drink.
Parents are now calling for 60% of all school canteen menus to have healthy foods, commonly referred to as ‘green’ or ‘everyday’ items.
The Parents’ Jury Manager Corrina Langelaan believes schools should be endorsing healthy eating messages in everything they do: “While at first glance, these results might seem worrying, we found that it would take very little effort to ensure Australian school menus offer children healthier choices.
“Of course we want kids to have the occasional treat and we’re not suggesting they be removed from the menu. However, amber and red items should not exceed green. Green food can be fun and profitable for school canteens. Increasing it would help school menus easily become compliant and give kids the opportunity to make great food choices.”
Parents also want to see canteens introduce a traffic light, front of pack food labelling system and require all government schools to work with canteen support services.
For further information on the results, visit The Parents’ Jury (http://www.parentsjury.org.au/key-concerns/healthy-schools/more-green-please-school-canteen-menus). There are also free tips on how to campaign for change (http://www.parentsjury.org.au/key-concerns/healthy-schools/campaigning-for-a-healthy-school) at your school.
The Parents' Jury
P:(03) 9667 1742
M: 0423 791 194
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