NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy

The Department of Education‘s Nutrition in Schools Policy requires all
public schools with a canteen to implement the NSW Healthy School
Canteen Strategy (the Strategy). Catholic and independent schools are also encouraged to adopt the Strategy. 

The Strategy is underpinned by a set of Food and Drink Criteria that are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Foods and Drinks are classified as either Everyday or Occasional.

The Food and Drink Criteria

The Food and Drink Criteria (Criteria) applies to all foods and drinks sold in
the school canteen. There are 5 main elements of the Criteria that schools are expected to implement to meet the Strategy:

  1. Sugar-Sweetened drinks SHOULD NOT BE SOLD in the school canteen or in vending machines.
  2. Everyday food and drinks should make up a minimum of 75% of the canteen menu and Occasional not more than 25% of the menu.
  3. All Occasional packaged foods and Everyday breakfast cereals must have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars and above.
  4. There are portion limits for ALL Occasional foods and drinks and for Everyday hot foods, 99% juices and flavoured milk.  
  5. Only Everyday foods and drinks should be marketed and promoted in the canteen.

Where to start with the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy?

You can either start by checking out the Food and Drink Criteria booklet or by watching our “Getting to Know the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy” webinar. Both resources walk you through how to apply the Food and Drink Criteria to your canteen, including how to classify items as Everyday or Occasional.  You can view the webinar below and download the slides here.


Healthy Food Finder is an online database where you can search packaged items and it will let you know whether a product is Everyday or Occasional, the Health Star Rating, and whether it meets the criteria of the Strategy. This resource is useful for determining whether your packaged menu items meet the Food and Drink Criteria.

How do I verify that my canteen is meeting the Food and Drink Criteria?

The NSW Menu Check Service is a free service that verifies whether a
canteen menu is meeting the Food and Drink Criteria. For an overview of the Menu Check Service and a step by step guide of how to prepare and submit a menu check application, access our “Menu Check” Webinar. You can view the webinar below and download the slides here.

Once you have reviewed your canteen menu against the Food and Drink Criteria and are ready to submit for a menu check you can access the application form here (P&C and school run canteens only).

Licensed providers who operate in two or more school canteens need to have their overarching general menu (referred to as a Master Menu) assessed by the Menu Check Service. The master menu application form can be accessed here. Once a master menu passes the menu check, any additional items and promotional practices in individual school canteens are then assessed via a shortened application form. For more information on this process access the licensed provider fact sheet here.

Schools that meet the Strategy receive a Great Choice badge and Certificate to display in the canteen and have their school name added to the statewide canteen list of healthy school canteens.

Help and support are available!

Every NSW school has access to practical support to help them implement the Strategy. Primary schools can contact their local health district health promotion officer and secondary schools can call the Secondary School Support Service. 

For further information, including tools, resources, recipes and case studies visit the NSW Healthy School Canteen website.

You can also like our Facebook page to receive updates, menu ideas and inspiration for your canteen.

Need help? Contact us today.