It was so very easy when they were little. I did the shopping, decided on the menu, packed their lunches, factored in the treats and knew exactly what my kids were eating every day.  My family’s diet is very important to me. I’ve struggled with weight issues in the past and once I had children, I vowed to make sure that they would grow up with a healthy attitude to how their bodies work.

We’ve always talked about food and my kids know the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods. I want to empower them to take responsibility for their own health.  I’m very proud that mostly they make informed choices and choose to eat healthily. .

We had it sorted – or so I thought until I packed my eldest off to high school. It’s a fabulous school and I love that it supports me as a parent in promoting a healthy eating message as part of the school curriculum.

Just one thing! I can’t believe that my child has been given the choice to eat pies, sausage rolls or pizza all washed down with a soft drink on a daily basis if he wants to. As it turns out my son developed a fondness for meat pies followed by icy poles and has admitted to having these three times in one week. It might have been more, but he quickly registered the look of horror on my face when I asked what he’d had for lunch. As part of growing up and becoming more responsible (so much for that!) he was allowed to order lunch from the canteen every now and then.

Fine, except that this was supplemented by spending his own money to go to the canteen with his mates. They all seem to order the same type of food. And the cost! He admitted to spending $10-15 at a time if he has the money. This time, my face must have gone beyond horror into a state of frozen disbelief. We’re now also discussing the cost of processed food and sensible use of pocket money.

What’s with these nutritionally poor options still cropping up on our tuckshop menus?  Yes I know that often they come in under the ‘red’ or ‘once a term’ items on a menu, but I’ve asked my kids and nobody checks whether they’ve ordered the same pizza and 600ml orange juice every day for the last 5 days. I’ve been online and checked out menus in both the secondary school and primary school my kids go to. The primary school pretty much supports my work. It only has one lunch order day a week. However, there are ‘red’ options available to kids and if kids are eating at the tuckshop several times a week or even every day, that’s a lot of unhealthy food in their diet.

Both canteens feature healthy and tasty food on the menu, so I can’t understand why junk food items have to be there.  It would be nice to see lots more “home-made” types of food like pasta, risotto or soup in the winter as an option instead of the over processed options such as pies, sausage rolls and pizza.

We all know how easy it is to give in to temptation so why can’t we work with our schools to make sure more of the menu is healthy and treats are at a minimum? I know I’m going to.

For more information and tips on campaigning at your school, click here.

To read the report, click here.

Don’t forget, we want to hear your success stories! Got a healthy canteen story to tell? Contact us.

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