ACT National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines

Schools in the Australian Capital Territory follow the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines, which aims to help canteen managers across Australia to make healthy food and drink choices for school canteens. The National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

As per the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy, all ACT Public schools are required to implement the Guidelines.

A traffic light system is used to classify foods and drinks as GREEN, AMBER or RED based on the nutritional value of the menu item.


GREEN foods and drinks are the best choices for the school canteen as they contain a wide range of nutrients and are lower in saturated fat, sodium, and/or sugar. GREEN foods and drinks should make up the majority of your menu, and fall into the five food groups (e.g. fruit, vegetables, mean meats, dairy and grains).


AMBER foods and drinks contain some nutritional value, but may contain too much saturated fat, sodium and/or sugar to be classified as GREEN. If eaten in large amounts AMBER items could result in an excess intake of kilojoules and should therefore be limited in school canteens.


RED foods and drinks are not allowed to be sold ACT school canteens. RED items are not essential for a healthy diet because they are typically high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt and are low in nutritional value. All deep-fried foods, sugar-sweetened drinks and confectionery items are automatically RED foods and cannot be sold in ACT school canteens.

The National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines applies to all school-related activities. This means that RED foods and drinks cannot be sold or provided in any fundraisers, school carnivals, as a classroom award or any other school-related events.

Support Available

The ACT Nutrition Support Service supports ACT school canteens to meet the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines and ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy. ACTNSS services include assistance in:

  • Interpreting the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines
  • Understanding how the canteen is affected by the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy
  • Understand food safety requirements
  • Analysing recipes against the guidelines
  • Identifying suitable products which meet the guidelines

To get in contact, text 0468 734 436, call 02 6162 2583 or email

Healthy Kids Support LineMembers of Healthy Kids can access a range of support options to help them keep in line with the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines, and how to promote healthy options in schools. Support includes canteen recipes, templates that will assist you in managing a school canteen, menu feedback and advice from our team of dietitians.

To get in contact, call us on 1300 724 850 or email


The National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens – Outlines which foods and drinks are permitted for sale in schools in the ACT, and how foods and drinks are classified.

ACT School Canteen Buyers’ Guide – A valuable tool to help ACT school canteen managers build healthy canteen menus.

Products are assessed against the Healthy Kids Nutrient Criteria and colour-coded as GREEN or AMBER according to the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines.

Fresh Tastes – An initiative in ACT aimed at developing a culture of healthy food and drinks throughout the whole school environment.

Fresh tastes is a partnership between ACT Health and the ACT Education and Training Directorate and the Catholic Education Office. All ACT schools are invited to participate in Fresh Tastes. Email or call (02) 5124 9516 to learn more.

Go for Green – An online course and guide which teachers you step-by-step how to classify your school’s food and drinks according to the traffic light system.

We’ve built a calculator that specifically looks at the National Healthy School Canteen guidelines and will help you determine if a packaged food product is AMBER or RED.