Canteen Manager Training Part 1

Role of the School Canteen in contributing to a health promoting school

Page last updated: 08 October 2013

The school canteen is a great place to promote an enjoyment of healthy eating. For students who use the canteen regularly, the food purchased makes a significant contribution to their total food intake and nutrition; therefore it makes sense to ensure the best food possible is available to enhance their ability to learn and take in the information presented to them in class.

For students who don’t use the canteen regularly, the canteen still plays an important educational and modelling role for healthy eating habits.

There are many aspects of a child’s life that may be restricted in an educational setting. For example: the type of reading material accessed in the library, internet access and visual material (DVD) and the clothes they wear. It is appropriate to restrict unhealthy food in an educational setting. The canteen also plays an important role within the broader school environment – that of reinforcing knowledge, skills and behaviours about healthy eating and lifestyle which are taught in the classroom. Food provided at school has a considerable influence on the development of children’s long-term eating habits, food preferences and attitudes towards food. The school canteen plays a vital role in promoting healthy foods and creating a school culture of healthy eating.

Food preferences are developed in childhood. By promoting and encouraging healthier food choices during childhood, it is anticipated that healthy eating habits will be carried through to adulthood and may go some way to help prevent chronic disease later in life. The focus of the NHSC project is to encourage the development and reinforcement of healthy eating patterns at school, promoting a balanced healthy eating pattern rather than focusing on weight management.