Saving School Canteens

On Friday, the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations will proudly launch its School Canteen Improvement Project, which will help save canteens in danger of going out of business. The project saves canteens time and money while delivering a better, and healthier, service.

The $200,000 project was funded the ACT Government, after Council lobbied to secure the substantial commitment as an election promise.

“As canteens have moved to healthier menus, we have seen many struggle or go out of business – healthier food is often more expensive and takes longer to prepare,” said Council President, Viv Pearce. “We are hoping to tip the scales back in favour of canteens with systems that save time and money and should increase orders too.”

The project provides two new systems for canteens:
• an automated ordering system where parents submit food orders online and canteens receive easy-to-use printouts of what they are making that day; and,
• access to a procurement agent, which will reduce of the cost of produce by up to 25% over time.

“This system saves canteen workers hours each day by automatically tallying orders and printing labels for each lunch. Experience has shown that having the online ordering option increases sales too – it’s just more convenient for parents than writing on paper bags and scrambling for the right change in the morning,” said Ms Pearce.

“Systems like this already operate at some schools, but through this project we have provided the expertise for it to be implemented in all public schools and have been able to subsidise the up-front costs so that school canteens can more easily get on board,” she said. “This is important because if your canteen is struggling financially, you are not in the position to invest in something new.”

“We have also come up with a way for ACT canteens to get cheaper, government prices on their produce,” Ms Pearce said. “By setting up our school canteens to use NSWBuy, the NSW government food contract, they will save up to 25% on the cost of produce. Many of the suppliers will stay the same, just selling at government prices.”

Roll out of the “Flexischools” online ordering system to schools has begun. Public school canteens wishing to obtain the system without the usual set-up fees should contact Council’s office.

This project arose from recommendations of the 2012 Ministerial Taskforce on Canteens, which included members from Council, ACT Education and Training Directorate, Nutrition Australia, ACT Health, ACT School Canteen Association and Healthy Kids Association.

The project will be launched as part of the ACT Government’s Fresh Tastes launch at 10:30am at Palmerston Primary School, Friday February 21.


February 20, 2014