The NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy for Parents

Did you know that 1 in 5 Australian kids are overweight or obese? It is important that children have a healthy diet so they get the energy and nutrients they need to learn, play and grow. Creating a healthy school environments gives kids the chance to make healthy choices and set up healthy habits for life.

Have you noticed healthy changes being made to your child’s school canteen menu? All Public schools are required (and Catholic and Independent schools are encouraged) to meet the criteria of the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy, an initiative put together by the NSW Ministry of Health. The aim of the criteria is to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.

So… what do you need to know about the criteria?
  1. There are ‘Everyday‘ foods and drinks and ‘Occasional’ foods and drinks. Everyday items are those that come from the 5 food groups and should be eaten each day for a healthy, balanced diet. Occasional foods are the ‘discretionary’ foods that are often high in saturated fat, sugar, and/or salt. At least ¾ of the canteen menu must be made up of Everyday items, to make sure that there are plenty of healthy options available.
  2. To make sure that only the healthiest options of discretionary items are available, all Occasional items need to have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars or more.
  3. All Occasional items and some Everyday items have portion limits, which ensures that the foods and drinks children are buying from the canteen are appropriate sizes.
  4. Only Everyday foods and drinks can be marketed and promoted in the canteen. This means that only health options are being displayed on the canteen counter, priced favourably, are sold in meal deals and specials, or are displayed in posters or signs around the school.
  5. Sugary drinks cannot be sold. Sugary drinks are drinks with any type of added sugar (except milk).

As parents, you too can positively impact your child’s health by providing mainly Everyday foods at home.

If you’re interested in reading more about the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy, click here. For more information on Health Star Ratings, click here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Healthy Kids Support Line on 1300 724 850, or email us at