Department of Education

Healthy Food and Drink

Healthy Food and Drink

Healthy Food and Drink ‹ Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions


Q: Why do we need a policy for food services in schools?
A: Childhood obesity is a serious problem both within Western Australia and nationally. When children carry too much weight and are obese they face a greater risk of immediate and long-term health and behavioural problems. There has been a community call for us all to work together to help our children become more healthy and reduce their risk of suffering serious health problems later in life. Schools, canteens and other types of food services can support healthy lifestyle choices. Back to top

Product registration/Assessment

Q: Some schools experience difficulty with sourcing volunteers for school canteens. How can canteens get help with the policy?
A: WASCA is available to provide support and advice to all school canteens. WASCA is being funded to provide training and assistance to all canteens/food services and their employer, ie P and C representatives.

Assistance will be provided for canteen staff facing canteen management issues such as:

  • making food preparation more simple
  • where to get healthier foods
  • healthier food ideas
  • attracting and working with volunteers.
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Q: What help is available to schools in regional areas which may experience difficulty in accessing Star Choice registered? products (or their equivalents)?
A: Rural and regional areas can have difficulty in accessing healthier products. Canteens from different schools may be able to group together to increase their purchasing power – that is, buying in bulk to make foods cheaper. Back to top
Q: What resources are available?
A: Information for parents, school and canteen staff has been developed so that consistent messages are provided to students about healthy eating. Sample menu planners, a website, poster, postcards, factsheets, booklets and a helpline all encourage a whole school approach to making healthy food and drink choices. Back to top

Putting the policy in place

Q: How does the policy deal with the issue of food allergies?
A: This policy needs to be considered together with the Department’s Student Health Care policy and the Department of Health's Food Allergen Management Guide for School Canteenss

Schools are encouraged to establish “allergy friendly” or “peanut friendly” environments where risks are reduced to the extent possible but where all concerned recognise the need for ongoing vigilance.

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Q: How often can we serve foods and drinks in the AMBER category?
A: Savoury commercial products in the AMBER category of foods and drinks should be limited to 2 days per week. These products include (but are not limited to) reduced fat pastry items and pizza. Back to top
Q: What does 'artificially sweetened drinks' mean?
A: ‘Artificially sweetened drinks’ refers to drinks where an artificial sweetener, eg aspartame, has been added. Back to top
Q: What is confectionery?
A: Confectionery includes chocolates, carob and yoghurt based confectionery, and all types of lollies such as boiled lollies, cough lollies, liquorice, lollies made from fruit juice, and jelly lollies. All confectionery falls into the RED category.

Foods containing confectionery, such as chocolate chips, sprinkles and icing, cannot be registered and are therefore RED. The Star Choice Buyers’ Guide may help to determine whether or not a food falls into the AMBER category.

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Q: Why are RED food and drinks restricted? Don't children need RED foods to meet extra energy requirements?
A: The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) recommends that children meet their higher nutrient needs by eating more foods from the five food groups: cereals (including breads, rice, pasta, noodles); vegetables and legumes; fruit; and milk, cheese, yoghurt and alternatives, and meat and meat alternatives.

‘Extra foods’ should be included only sometimes and in small amounts.

Dietary surveys show that young people are not consuming the recommended amounts or variety of foods from the five food groups. Instead, approximately six serves of ‘extra’ foods are being consumed every day, contributing to excess energy, fat, sugar and salt, and insufficient essential nutrients needed for growth and development.

There are ample opportunities to consume 'extra' or 'red' foods and drinks outside of school.

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What is happening at the national level and in other states?

Q: How does this policy relate to the guidelines for National Healthy School Canteens which were announced in March 2011?
A: The Australian Government developed guidelines for National Healthy School Canteens. Implementation of the guidelines is not mandatory. The guidelines were considered during the 2013 review of the Healthy Food and Drink policy. Back to top

What is not part of the policy?

Q: Are private schools be required to implement the policy?
A: Even though implementation of the Department of Education's Healthy Food and Drink policy is not mandatory in private schools, these schools are encouraged to implement the policy and model healthy eating practices in their settings. Back to top
Q: Can children bring birthday cakes to school to share with their classmates?
A: Yes, birthday cakes may still be brought to school on a child’s birthday. However, please confirm this with your child's classroom teacher. The policy only applies to food and drink supplied by the school. Small serving sizes are encouraged. Back to top
Q: How does StarCAP2 fit in with the policy?
A: StarCAP2 is a voluntary accreditation program which awards schools operating healthy canteens by using a star rating. StarCAP2 is a separate program that is consistent with the policy. For information on StarCAP2, contact the Western Australian School Canteen Association Back to top

What's in the policy?

Q: Does the policy apply to any other areas?
A: The policy also applies to areas in the school where the principal is directly responsible for the supply of food and drinks, for example:
  • classroom rewards
  • class cooking activities
  • school camps
  • school excursions.
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Q: Does the policy apply to both primary and secondary public schools?
A: Yes. The policy is mandatory for all public schools in Western Australia. Back to top
Q: What are AMBER foods and drinks?
A: AmberCanteen/food service menus should not be dominated by these foods and drinks. They should be limited and chosen carefully. Large serving sizes should not be used.

Examples include (but are not limited to):
Refined cereals with added sugars, full fat dairy foods and commercial products such as Star Choice registered pastry items, snack food bars, ice-creams, cakes, muffins and fruit juice (>99%,no added sugar, in small sizes).

Food and drinks that have not been registered in the Star Choice Buyers’ Guide may be used if they meet the minimum nutrient criteria for registration.

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Q: What are GREEN foods and drinks?
A: GreenThese foods/drinks should be encouraged and promoted and they should fill the canteen/food service menu.

In general these foods/drinks:

  • are excellent sources of important nutrients
  • are low in saturated fat and/or added sugar and/or salt
  • help to avoid an intake of excess energy (kilojoules).

Examples include (but are not limited to): Fruit (fresh, canned, frozen and dried), vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, reduced fat dairy products such as plain milk (all sizes), flavoured milk (small sizes), yoghurt and cheese, lean meats, fish and chicken, eggs and plain water.

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Q: Who has to follow the policy?
A: The policy applies to all public school canteens and food services provided in place of a canteen. This includes:
  • school canteens managed by Parents and Citizens’Associations (P and Cs)
  • school canteens contracted by the school
  • breakfast programs provided at the school
  • any onsite vending machines available to students
  • food services provided by local shops in place of a canteen service.
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Frequently asked questions

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