Canteen Manager Training Part 1


Page last updated: 08 October 2013

Purpose of this course

Training today focuses on the skills needed to use the National Healthy School Canteens food categorisation system.

This training goes some of the way to meeting the requirements for recognition of a national unit of competency called Develop menus to meet special dietary and cultural needs (SITHCCC035A) . You may decide in the future to enrol in a course from a recognised training organisation. Not everyone attending today will want or need to meet these requirements. It is presented as an option only. We will discuss this option more at the conclusion of today’s session.

Aim of the NHSC Project

The aim of the NHSC project is to Develop a food categorisation system and training resources to assist canteen managers to make appropriate menu choices that encourage the development and reinforcement of healthy eating patterns in schools.

Since 2005, many states and territories (starting with NSW) have introduced guidelines for food and drinks available for sale in school canteens. However, these guidelines vary slightly. Consultations undertaken found there was overwhelming support to develop a consistent national approach for the types of food and drinks that can be sold in a healthy school canteen. The resulting NHSC Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens offer a consistent approach and are designed to be used nationally.

Mid-2004: the Australian Health Ministers Council

In Mid 2004 the Australian Health Ministers Council announced their support for school canteens in promoting healthy eating among children. The Health Ministers instructed health and industry sectors to work through the National Obesity Taskforce (NOTF) to achieve this objective. The NOTF released a paper called ‘Healthy Weight 2008 Australia’s Future: National Action Agenda’ which is an action plan to tackle overweight and obesity.

Data from a number of national and state/territory surveys, while not directly comparable, indicate that the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased steadily from around 10% in 1985 to approximately 20% in 1995, when the first National Nutrition Survey was conducted, and appears to have peaked at 25% in 2003/04 as reported by the Sentinel Site for Obesity Prevention in Victoria. Recent data from the 2007 Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey puts the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australian children at approximately 23%.

Studies represented (References included in the Trainer’s Manual)
AHFS 1985: Australian Health & Fitness Survey
NNS 1995: National Nutrition Survey
Booth et. al: 1995-1997: Data from 5 independent surveys
NINS 2003-2004: National Iodine Nutrition Survey
WA 2003: WA Obesity Think-Tank Background Paper
VIC 2003-2004: Sentinel Site for Obesity Prevention
NSW 2004: NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS)
LSAC 2004: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
QLD 2006: Healthy Kids Queensland Survey
KEKP 2007: (Kids Eat, Kids Play) 2007 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

Australian Better Health Initiative Implementation plan (ABHI)

In 2006 Australian Health Ministers endorsed the Australian Better Health Initiative Implementation plan. The key objective of ABHI is to implement consistent national guidelines across a range of health sectors. The initiative included funding for the National Healthy School Canteens Project which would incorporate the principles and standards endorsed by the NOTF, primarily to promote good health through healthy eating to reduce levels of obesity and chronic diseases later in life and, in a broader context, to take into account the principles of the WHO Health Promoting School Strategy.

2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey Findings

The results of the most recent national survey, the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, revealed that the majority of Australian children (72%) aged between 2 and 16 years fall within the healthy weight range; however, (28%) are outside the healthy weight range.

Almost one in four are classified as overweight or obese and 5% are classified as underweight.

The prevalence of obesity was similar at 5-7% for both boys and girls.The highest level of overweight was seen in girls aged 9-13 years. It has been suggested that this is due to the effects of puberty; however, more research is needed to determine if this is the case. (In this age group 23% were overweight – boys and girls in all other age groups ranged from 13-19% overweight.)

Although this and other recent surveys suggest that the percentage of children falling into the overweight and obese category is levelling off, there is no room for complacency.

Overweight and obesity is a major risk factor for chronic disease later in life such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Some experts predict that if the current trend in childhood overweight and obesity continues, this generation of children may be the first to experience shorter life spans than their parents.

Contributing Factors

There are many contributing factors to the increase in childhood overweight and obesity; however, broadly speaking these can be broken down into:
  • changed eating patterns, and
  • a decrease in physical activity.

Recent Data:

There were some other interesting findings from the 2007 National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

The survey revealed that a third of a child’s daily energy intake occurs during school hours (as you would expect). Overall, children were not consuming the recommended amount of fruit, vegetables or calcium; however, a significant proportion of the fruit and calcium they did consume was during school hours.

Interestingly, only 17% of total vegetable intake was during school hours, suggesting an opportunity to increase promotion and thereby the consumption of vegetables during this time.

Health promoting school

Schools are ideally placed to deliver healthy lifestyle messages to children. Health promoting schools ‘practice what they preach’ by ensuring food and drink supplied by the school canteen is consistent with, and supports, the health and wellbeing messages taught in class. The aim is to create an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.

Programs and policies that promote healthy environments require the support of all school community members, including parents, teachers and principals, in order to be successfully adopted. Food industry, especially local suppliers are encouraged to work with school canteens to develop and promote healthy food choices in school canteens.

To ensure the healthy eating message is not only received but acted on, the message that is taught should be consistent with the school environment and supported by both the school and the local community.