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 and should therefore be encouraged and promoted. They contain a wide range of nutrients and are generally lower in saturated fat, sodium (salt), and/or sugar. GREEN foods and drinks fall into the five food groups and should make up the majority of the menu.

AMBER foods and drinks contain some nutritional value, but generally contain higher amounts saturated fat, sodium (salt) and/or sugar. Consumption of AMBER items in large amounts can result in excess energy (kilojoule) intake and should therefore be provided in smaller serve sizes and should not dominate your menu.

RED foods and drinks lack adequate nutritional value and are typically high in energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, sodium (salt) and/or sugar. They are not essential for a healthy diet and therefore should not be on the canteen menu. All deep-fried foods, sugar-sweetened drinks and confectionery items are automatically RED.

The National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines applies to all school-related activities. This means that RED foods and drinks should not 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 – 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 have been assessed against the Healthy Kids Nutrient Criteria and the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines and classified as GREEN or AMBER 

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.