Tackling the issues facing canteens

A push by the government for healthier food options at school canteens has left many in a tight financial situation. Council has brought the issue to the attention of the Government.

This has culminated in the Minister for Education and Training, Chris Bourke, taking quick action to establish a High Level Taskforce Working Group on Canteens. The Taskforce will look into these issues and drive positive and practical outcomes where possible.

We are pleased to announce progress around the terms of reference, which have been agreed upon. The Taskforce includes representatives from Education & Training Directorate (ETD), ACT Health, ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations, ACT School Canteens Association and Nutrition Australia. External advisors will be called upon to give advice on an ad hoc basis.

The aim of the Taskforce is to identify a range of solutions to the issues facing canteens with a focus on recommendations around financial viability, whilst maintaining a nutrition focus.

With this in mind, the Taskforce will address issues such as:

  • reducing the cost of food purchasing / procurement;
  • reviewing and recommending options for integrated online ordering systems;
  • refine banking processes, procedures and costs to work with the above systems;
  • review a range of business models that canteens can adopt with a potential for a hub canteen concept for smaller canteens within a geographic area; and
  • review the model for outsourcing canteens, so that ETD ensures all contracts require providers to supply healthy food to students, and protect the interests of the school and P&C.

The Taskforce will also look at how running canteens can be simplified acknowledging that many canteens are run by volunteers with limited time and experience in dealing with small

In terms of timelines, it is expected that the Taskforce will report to the Minister before the end of the year and it is likely that there will be an implementation phase after the final report is presented. Importantly, we will keep you informed of our progress.

If you have had success in running your canteen we would like to hear from you so we can pass this on to the Taskforce and in turn struggling canteens. You can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whilst it is acknowledged there is no easy solution for fixing the diverse nature of problems, expected outcomes are likely to be a practical step forward and provide positive support to what is an important service.


This article was published in ParentACTion 3.2012, September 2012.