Our Green canteens

Canteen staff, volunteers and co-ordinators from ACT schools congregated to celebrate our wonderful school canteens and strive to make them even tastier, at this year’s Canteen Connect.

CanteenConnect2019SMGathering momentum every year, Canteen Connect is a great event where those working hard in our school canteens can learn from others, exchange ideas and inspiration, and pause to reflect on their achievements.

And the achievements are significant, with 91% of public school canteens this year meeting the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines. Over half of these are managed by volunteer P&C committees. It’s a lot of work, and here at Council we are super proud of the job they do providing a range of healthy foods and a reliable canteen service for their communities.

Having that many canteens meeting the guidelines means that more than half of all the menu items in public school canteens are now GREEN – foods with high nutritional value and low in saturated fats, added sugar and salt. This represents a big turn around in the last decade. As the Guidelines were taken to heart by P&C canteen committees and reinforced with the Education Directorate’s Food and Drink Policy, we have seen each public school canteen working hard to create, cook and promote healthy and tasty foods that their communities love.

It hasn’t always been easy, and Council continues to be involved in making sure that the supports which canteens need are available through regular meetings with Nutrition Australia, ACT Health and the ACT Education Directorate.

Speaking of supports, there are new resources which Canteen Managers and subcommittees may find useful. We are very grateful to the work which ACT Health and Nutrition Australia have put into understanding the challenges of school canteens and supporting them.

Go For Green – quick online training

gfg screenshotIf you want to learn more about using the Traffic Light System – or just check that you’re still on the right track – have a look at the new online Go for Green course. The course and accompanying guide take you through the process of classifying both freshly made and pre-packaged food and drinks. It also covers how to GREEN them up  - all in a fun, interactive way. You can find the course on the Fresh Tastes website.

If you complete the course and accompanying survey before 31 December, you’ll go in the draw to win a prize pack of eco-friendly takeaway supplies for your canteen!

Boosting the flavour

We know from feedback from some P&C-run canteens that making flavourful dishes that kids and school staff like can be tricky while keeping the foods GREEN, but did you know:

  • Reduced-salt stock, made as directed, is a GREEN ingredient and can be added to GREEN recipes.
  • There is a special allowance for Asian sauces and curry pastes. While they are AMBER ingredients, sauces such as soy, sweet chilli, hoisin and oyster sauce and curry pastes can be added in small amounts to a GREEN dish without changing the GREEN classification. Reduced salt varieties must be used and up to 2 teaspoons (8ml) is allowed per 250g serve in meat and vegetable dishes or used as a marinade.

Ham has also been a hot topic over the years. Did you know that there are allowances for adding a small amount of lean ham, bacon, processed turkey, smoked fish or corned/roast beef (usually RED ingredients) to GREEN recipes without making the recipe RED? The final product will be AMBER if one shaved slice (25g) of the processed meat is added to:

  • a sandwich, roll or wrap which contains ½ cup of salad vegetables
  • pizza with ¼ cup of cooked vegetables or ½ cup of salad vegetables
  • baked potato with ¼ cup of other cooked vegetables
  • frittata with at least ¼ cup of veges per serve.

Two shaved slices (50g) of lean ham, corned or roast beef, bacon, or processed turkey can also be added to salads, to give an AMBER item as long as there’s at least two cups of salad vegetables or one cup of cooked vegetables (eg. pumpkin).

Find all the nitty gritty in the Go For Green guide and the online course (links on the Canteen Support page of our website). 


This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 4, 2019.