Marketing & Promotion: NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy

One of the criteria of the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy is that only Everyday food and drinks can be promoted, advertised or displayed in prominent positions in the canteen.

MARKETING is anything you can do to advertise, create a demand for, and increase the sale of your menu items. So, how can you successfully ‘market’ your canteen and your menu items to create this demand? By using the 4p’s of marketing:

  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Placement
  4. Promotion

How to use the 4p’s of marketing to promote Everyday menu items


  • Make sure at least ¾ (75%) of the menu is filled with a range of Everyday foods and drinks. Visit our sample menus and templates to see five different example menus made up of more than 75% Everyday items.
  • Presentation is key – Kids eat with their eyes! Use clear packaging or half-wrap sandwiches/burgers so students can see what they’re ordering. Primary school canteens can use colourful stickers on Everyday items or use cookie cutters to make fun-shaped fruit salads. Secondary schools benefit from adapting a trendy café vibe.
  • Variety – have a set of core menu items, as well as some items that change from time to time (e.g. to reflect seasonal changes). Boost your summer menu with tantalising salads, wraps and frozen fruits. Warm up your winter menu with soups, noodle stir-fries and pasta bakes.
  • Know your customers – it is important you seek feedback to find out what foods and drinks students like and what they/their parents want to see in the canteen. Send out a survey, get students to vote from a selection of food and drinks, set up a suggestion box, or trial new products with a handful of students before you put them on the menu.


The cost of an item is often the ultimate decider for kids. Applying a higher mark up for Occasional products means you can offer your Everyday items at a more tempting, lower price. Check out our How to Favourably Price Everyday foods webpage for assistance on how to do this.

Add some Everyday specials and meal deals to your menu. Under the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy:

  • A ‘special’ is any item on the menu or on a specials board that is highlighted, promoted, advertised as a ‘special’ or is listed at a cheaper-than-usual price. Specials could be daily/weekly, or they could be used as a one-time only introductory price so students can taste test new Everyday products on the menu. You could also revive interest by dropping the price of pre-existing Everyday items for a few days.
  • A ‘meal deal’ is when one or two items are bundled together for sale. These may also be promoted or sold at a reduced price. Check out our meal deal ideas resource for some ideas of Everyday items you could sell together.


The foods that are the most visible are those that are most likely to sell! Place only Everyday foods and drinks in prominent positions such as on the canteen counter, at point of sale (where money is exchanged), at the front of displays, and at eye level in fridges.

In self-serve canteens, it is likely that all menu items will be on the counter. Try to put Everyday items at the front of displays, and make sure Occasional foods or drinks are not within arm’s length of the register.

Placement also includes promotional material. Promote your menu by having it clearly displayed in the canteen area, and put up posters of Everyday foods and drinks in visible positions. Don’t forget to take into account the eye level of your students!


Some useful ways to advertise your Everyday menu items include:

  • Specials – introduce a daily or weekly special, or hold a one-off special to introduce a new menu item, revive a pre-existing menu item, or celebrate an event (e.g. “the Bolt Burger” on Athletics Carnival week or dim sum for Chinese New Year).
  • Meal/snack deals – Check out our meal deal ideas resource for a list of products you can advertise together as a package deal.
  • Use fun and/or descriptive names of Everyday menu items, e.g. “Angry Birds Burger” or “Mouth-watering Meatball Sub”.
  • Visibly display posters and a menu/specials boards in the canteen area and around the school grounds.
  • Social media – Make a canteen Facebook/Instagram account to promote the menu to parents, students and teachers.
  • Have a downloadable version of the canteen menu available on the school website, and promote specials/meal deals and any new menu items in the school newsletter.
  • Get the kids involved – Organise for students to put together some artwork and advertising material for Everyday menu items, such as posters and social media content. You could also hold a competition where students get to name new menu items!
  • Rewards for healthy choices – in primary schools you could hand out stickers with Everyday items. In secondary schools you could provide a points system or frequent customer cards that reward students for choosing Everyday items.
  • If you use an online ordering system, use all the functions available to promote your Everyday menu items, meal deals and specials. This can help parents and students make a healthier choice.

Click the following links to download the above specials posters:

Green machine, Healthy plate, Munch monster

Check out the LookBook to see how five different NSW school canteens market and promote their Everyday menu items.

Do you have questions about marketing and promoting in your canteen? Contact us!