Healthy school canteens

Learn about the department's Healthy School Canteens Strategy and how it applies to your school.

School canteens have an important role to play in providing healthy food and drink choices for students.

A healthy school canteen supports a 'whole-of-school' approach to student health and wellbeing, and reinforces healthy eating messages taught in the classroom.

The NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy, launched in February 2017, supports a culture of healthy eating in school by:

  • promoting and increasing student access to healthier foods and drinks
  • decreasing student access to less healthy food and drinks
  • supporting water as a drink of choice
  • making a healthy choice an easy choice.

Do all NSW schools need to meet the Strategy?

The NSW Healthy School Canteens Strategy applies to all NSW Government schools (primary, secondary and central schools) with a canteen. The NSW Department of Education's committment to supporting the provision of healthy food in public schools is reflected in the department's Nutrition in Schools Policy.

What is a canteen?

A school canteen is defined as one that:

  • sells food and drink items to school students through an arrangement with the school on a regular and recurrent basis (at least once per fortnight)
  • is on site and run by the school itself, by parent groups, other volunteers or third-party licensees on school grounds.

The provision of food and drink to boarding school students does not constitute a school canteen.

Schools that provide food to students through cafes, takeaway shops or catering services should be identified as NOT having a canteen. Principals should encourage the inclusion of healthy food and drink options provided from these locations.

Frequently asked questions

Does the Strategy apply to foods and drinks sold from the canteen on fun days/carnivals/sporting events?

The NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy only applies to foods and drinks sold within the canteen on usual school days. A school may choose to invite the canteen manager or P&C to cater for a special event, such as a school fair or carnival day. The food and drink options available on that day will be at the discretion of the principal. Promoting healthy food options should be considered at all school activities that involve the provision of food and drink,

Can the school or P&C hold a sausage sizzle or fundraiser on school grounds during the school day?

The NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy only applies to school canteens and not to food sold in fundraisers or events outside the school canteen..

If students purchase multiples of the same item from the canteen to have a bigger serve, should the canteen limit the sale of such items to one per student?

Canteen staff are not expected to control the frequency of student purchases from the school canteen and are not expected to limit sales of foods and drinks to individual students.

Can the school canteen sell special-order birthday iced cupcakes to parents to distribute to all students in that child’s class?

The school canteen is not able to sell special order birthday cakes or iced cupcakes to parents to distribute to a child’s class as these items contain confectionery and don’t meet the requirements of the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy. School canteens can prepare and sell to parents, celebratory food that meets the Strategy (i.e. Everyday or Occasional items) such as fruit platters, fruit juice icy poles, popcorn or mini fruit muffins).


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