‘I found that when I got Jane to help with making her lunches she was more likely to return an empty lunch box at the end of the day!’
~ Catherine, Jane’s mum
The food your child eats at school can have a major influence on their eating habits and preferences, growth, energy, concentration levels and ability to learn. When schools and families work together to promote healthy eating habits, it can have a life-long positive impact on children’s growth, development and health.
What schools do
The School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy and supporting resources guide schools to provide a healthy school food service and to develop a whole-school approach to healthy eating.
A whole-school approach to healthy eating is supported and recognised by the Achievement Program.
The Healthy Eating Advisory Service offers advice, resources and menu assessments to assist schools with the supply of foods and drinks in-line with the School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy.
What parents can do
Breakfast is important
Nutritious food in the morning helps your child to stay active and concentrate at school. Be a positive role model and let your child see you eat a nutritious breakfast too. A bowl of high fibre, low-sugar cereal with milk and fresh or stewed fruit is a great starter for the whole family. Choose breakfast cereals with at least 4g of fibre per 100g and less than 5g of sugar per 100g such as rolled oats or untoasted muesli.
School lunches – foods and drinks to include
A packed lunch from home is a great way for your child to learn about healthy foods and drinks. Stick to fresh, unprocessed foods as much as possible, and water or a tetra pack of milk (frozen in the warmer months). For a healthy lunchbox, include something from each of the five food groups, as well as water.
For practical ideas for a nutritious school lunchbox, print out our Pick & Mix 1–6 poster and keep it on your fridge as a quick and handy reference.
School lunches – foods and drinks to limit
Sweet drinks and highly processed, sugary, fatty and salty foods should only make up a very small part of your child’s diet. Avoid confectionery (including chocolate), crisps and sweet drinks in school lunches
Many supermarkets have products that seem conveniently packed and are marketed as ‘healthy’ for school lunches, but sweet drinks, biscuits, snack bars, fruit straps, chips and other products can be high in sugar, salt and fat. Compare the ‘per 100 grams’ nutrition information panel on product packaging and go with products that have the least sugar, fat and salt.
A special note on birthday celebrations
Many families like to celebrate children’s birthdays at school by providing some-thing for the class to share. This can mean quite a regular supply of lollies and cupcakes! Don’t feel you need to send a birthday treat in, as often the teacher will have fun and creative ways planned to acknowledge children's birthdays, such as performing a class song or a special badge to wear.
Finding out more
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