The role of school canteens in promoting healthy food choices


The Federation of Canteens has reaffirmed its position to work with the government, canteen associations and stakeholders across the country to empower school communities to make decisions that result in healthy food services.

This follows the Australian Bureau of Statistics finding that Australians are consuming less fruits, vegetables and milk.

Paul Atyeo, ABS health statistics spokesperson, said: “Each person had 186 grams of vegetables a day in 2022-23, down from 200 grams a day in 2021-22.

“We also went from eating 150 grams of fruit to 138 grams a day during 2022-23, while milk products fell from 278 to 267 to grams.”

Bucking the trend was bottled water, up 1.6 per cent from the previous year, along with energy and sports drinks (up 3.3 per cent), and chicken dishes like nuggets (up 2.6 per cent).

“Many of the foods that dropped during 2022-23 are part of longer-term trends. We’re consuming between 5 and 8 per cent less cow’s milk, bread and fruit juice per person compared to 2018-19,” Mr Atyeo said.

Leanne Elliston, Chairperson of the Federation of Canteens in Schools said, “Our nation’s youth are facing challenges when it comes to maintaining a balanced diet,”

“As we witness a decline in the consumption of fruits and vegetables and an increase in unhealthy packaged snack foods, it becomes increasingly evident that the role of school canteens in providing healthy food choices for children has never been more crucial.”

“Through collaborative efforts with school canteen associations and networks, communities, and government agencies, FOCIS is dedicated to supporting innovative strategies that promote the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products among students.”

“By offering a diverse range of nutritious options, school canteens serve as vital hubs for instilling lifelong habits of healthy eating and nourishment for young children.”