National Healthy School Canteens

Trainer's Manual

Topic 2: The NHSC Food Categorisation System

Page last updated: 22 October 2013

(Slides 34 - 76)
The NHSC food categorisation system is based on the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. The AGTHE is consistent with the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Activity: AGTHE

(Slide 42/Participant’s Workbook p.12)
How many serves would the following be?
Refer participants to the AGTHE tables on page 12 of their workbook. Go through the first example (apricots) together. Have them use the table to estimate the number of serves of each food group in a typical school lunch. Ask them to complete total serves as well.

Note: The serves of vegetables are added together in the total.

NHSC - The AGTHE - How much is a serve ?

How many serves would the following be ? (workbook, p.12)
2 apricots -> Serve
1 Cup of milk -> Serve
1 Beef Sandwich with -> Serve
2 Slices of Bread -> Serve
1 Slice of Beef -> Serve
3 Slices of Tomato -> Serve
1/4 Cup of Cucumber and Lettuce -> Serve
2 Teaspoons of margarine -> Serve

The NHSC food categorisation system

Foods have been classified into three categories based on The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and according to their nutritional value.

Always on the Menu - The Green Category*
Select Carefully - The Amber Category*
Not Recommended on the Canteen Menu - The Red Category*

Each of the food categories is discussed in detail in the NHSC Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens (pages 4-8).

Green - Always on the menu

Foods and drinks categorised as Green are the best choices for the school canteen menu as they contain a wide range of nutrients and are generally low in saturated fat and/or sugar and/or sodium (salt). These foods and drinks should be:
  • available every day
  • included as the main choices on the canteen menu
  • presented in attractive and interesting ways
  • promoted as tasty, good value choices.

Amber - Select Carefully

Foods and drinks categorised as Amber contain some valuable nutrients as well, but may also contain higher levels of saturated fat and/or sugar and/or sodium (salt). If eaten in large amounts these foods may contribute to excess energy (kilojoules) being consumed.
These foods and drinks should be:
  • sold in smaller serve sizes
  • less prominent on the canteen menu
  • moved towards the ‘Green’ end of the spectrum at every opportunity.*

Red - Not recommended on the canteen menu

Foods and drinks categorised as Red are low in nutritional value and may contain excess energy (kilojoules) and/or saturated fat and/or sodium (salt) and/ or sugar. These foods and drinks should:
  • not be provided in healthy school canteens.

Deciding if a food or drink is suitable for sale

Slowly walk participants through the decision tree on Slide 53.

Slide of Deciding if a food or drink may be sold. For more detailed description please refer to descriptive link next to this image. D

Group Work and Problem Solving

Activity: Sample menu – sorting foods

(Slides 55-56 / Participant's Workbook p.13)
Refer participants to pages 6-8 of the NHSC Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens.

Participants will use the tables to determine if the items are categorised as Green, Amber, Red or Not Sure. Not Sure items will be assessed later in the session.

ItemCategory – GreenCategory – AmberCategory – RedNot Sure
Drinks
Full-fat plain milk (375mL)Tick
Iced TeaTick
Low-fat flavoured milk (375mL)Tick
Water
LemonadeTick
Orange Juice (200mL)Tick
Apple Juice (600Ml)Tick
Snacks
Raisin toastTick
Icy-pole (lemonade)Tick
Pizza flavouredTick
snack biscuitsTick
Doughnut
Cheese & crackersTick
Fresh fruit salad
Muesli barTickTick
Main Meals
HamburgerTick
SushiTick
Two minute noodlesTick
Ham sandwichTick
PizzaTick
Tuna sandwich with saladTick
Beef pieTick

Categorising menu items

(Slides 57–70)
Demonstrate how the NIP on food labels can be used to assess foods against the NHSC nutrient criteria using the three steps outlined on page 9 of the Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens.

Group Work and Problem Solving Symbol

Activity: Assessing menu items against the NHSC criteria

(Slide 66 and 71/Participant’s Workbook p.14)
The purpose of this activity is to give participants the opportunity to practise assessing commercial food items using the information found on labels and applying it against the NHSC Nutrient Criteria Tables. Do this for the Amber and ‘Healthier Choices’ examples.

Have participants work in pairs or groups of three.

Provide each group with a set of food labels. Labels are available for printing from the CD provided with the training materials.

Have them compare the information on the NIP against the Nutrient Criteria Tables on page 10 and 11 of the Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens.

Brainstorming and Group Discussion Symbol

Group discussion: Moving items categorised as Amber towards the ‘Green’ end of the spectrum

(Slide 72/Participant’s Workbook p.14)
Brainstorming as a large group, have participants provide some ideas as to how they might make each of the menu items ‘Greener'.

Moving Amber Foods towards the 'Green' end of the spectrum

Using the examples below, 'Green' these Amber menu items.(Workbook, p.14)

Meals
Hamburger
Lasagne
Tomato Soup and bread roll
Pizza
Sushi

Snacks
Muffins/slices
Reduced-fat ice cream
Garlic Bread

Brainstorming and Group Discussion Symbol

Group discussion: Sodium content

(Slide 73/Participant’s Workbook p.14)

How can you reduce the sodium content of dishes?
Have participants brainstorm ideas for reducing the amount of salt, or replacing salt, in their dishes. Use less salt in cooking by adding other flavours, such as fresh herbs, spice, lemon juice and garlic. Check food labels and choose those that specify low-salt, reduced-salt or no added salt wherever possible.

Many of the ingredients used to prepare Asian dishes, such as soy sauce, oyster sauce and fish sauce are high in salt. Check the sodium content on the labels, especially flavouring agents used in Asian cooking. Choose the lowest-salt varieties and use in small amounts.

Brainstorming and Group Discussion Symbol

Group discussion: School canteen menu

(Slides 75-76/Participant’s Workbook pp.15-16)
Menus need to change from term to term to keep customers interested and to take advantage of the changing seasons. Working in small groups, ask participants to use the example menu as a base and suggest substitutions for the menu items listed. Also include a discussion on how students can be included in decisions regarding changes to canteen menu items.

Ideas for including students in the decision making process and incorporating their feedback/ comments may include the following.
• Survey children on substitution of menu items for the next term. For example, A & B are being replaced by Y & Z next term – ask students to vote for their favourite. The most popular item is included in next term’s menu. Of course, items will need to fit the NHSC guidelines. Example surveys are included in the Participant’s Workbook, Appendix 1.
• Taste tests – the canteen may provide samples of new items for students to taste.
• Students vote for their favourite item and this is included in the next term’s menu.
• ‘Specials menu’ to gauge popularity of proposed items.
• Suggestion box.
These types of approaches give students some ownership and promote inclusion in the decision-making process, increasing the likelihood that changes will be accepted.

It is important to survey staff as well, as they also buy food from the canteen and model behaviours to the students. Remind the canteen managers to conduct separate surveys for junior/upper primary as junior primary students may not have the capacity to make more sophisticated comments. Always keep statistics of what sells and what doesn’t.