The Food and Drink Criteria

The Food and Drink Criteria underpin the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy and apply to all foods and drinks sold in the school canteen. This includes items on the menu, sold over-the-counter, online and in vending machines that are for student use.

The Criteria

The Food and Drink Criteria are:

  • Sugar-sweetened drinks are not for sale in the canteen or in vending machines.
  • The canteen menu is made up of at least ¾ or 75% of Everyday and not more than ¼ or 25% Occasional foods and drinks.
  • Occasional packaged foods and drinks (except diet drinks) and Everyday packaged breakfast cereals have a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 stars or above.
  • Foods and drinks do not exceed the maximum specified portion size.
  • Only Everyday foods and drinks can be marketed and promoted in the canteen.

The classifications ‘Everyday’ and ‘Occasional’ are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Everyday foods

‘Everyday’ foods and drinks are those based on the five food groups:

Grains (e.g bread, rice, pasta, cereal), Vegetables, Fruit, Milk, yoghurt, cheese, dairy alternatives (e.g. calcium-fortified soy milk) and Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans.

Everyday foods and drinks should make up at least ¾ (75%) of the canteen menu.

Occasional foods

‘Occasional’ choices are foods and drinks mostly high in energy, saturated fat, sugars and/or salt and often with little nutritional value. Examples include cakes, sweet muffins, sweet biscuits, pies, sausage rolls, processed meats, packaged or commercial pizza, salty snacks and diet drinks.

Occasional foods and drinks can be sold in the canteen each day, but overall, they should make up less than 1/4 (25%) of the menu.

Menu planning resources

Download and access the following tools and guidance for planning a menu that complies with the Strategy:


  • DoE

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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