Kids in the canteen
Are students allowed to volunteer in the canteen? Can younger children of volunteers tag along while their parents work? The following points will help your school determine whether having kids in the canteen is appropriate.
What does your insurance policy cover?
The most important element can be whether your insurance policy covers children in the canteen. Read your insurance policy or call your provider to find out if children in the canteen are covered by your insurance policy. Note that the majority of P&C insurance does not cover students or children.
Be mindful that volunteers (including students) are not covered under worker’s compensation.
Can you guarantee there will be adequate supervision for students or younger children in the canteen? Do you have enough volunteers or adults to watch them closely or will it disrupt the usual processes in the canteen? If a canteen volunteer or staff member brings in a younger child, will the child be free to roam and potentially be a hazard to other canteen staff?
Can you ensure any student food handlers are trained appropriately and supervised to ensure high food safety standards? Under the Food Standards Code, it is up to the canteen to ensure that anyone who is handling food has knowledge and skills in food safety and food hygiene matters in line with the activities that they are given. While this may not be a concern for students who are handing out lunch orders, it will apply to students who are serving hot foods and involved in the food prep and cooking process.
Work health and safety
Hot ovens, pie warmers, boiling water and sharp knives can make the quickly-paced canteen a hazardous place for students to volunteer in and for younger children to be wandering around in. Above all, if students and young children are permitted in the canteen ensure ongoing measures are in place to minimise the risk of harm, ensure the environment is safe and food safety is not compromised.
How to decide?
We recommend canteen staff meet with the P&C and principal to make this decision together and determine an implementation plan so that all students and volunteers with children abide by the same policy. You may decide to write it into your canteen welcome pack for parent volunteers in the canteen, as well as in your canteen policy.