School canteens are integral to helping kids make great food choices. Healthy Harold paid a visit to Blackheath Public School to learn more about how canteens are keeping kids healthy…
While no two menu days are the same at Blackheath Public School’s Wholesome Kid’s Café, one thing remains consistent: healthy food that tastes great!
The secret to the success of the canteen, according to Blackheath Public School Canteen Manager Christine Curtis, is home-cooked, locally-grown goodness.
“We make our own pies and sausage rolls, each of which contains a minimum of three vegetables. We also make our own pizza bases, and like many of our baked products, we use wholemeal flour,” Christine said.
Even many of the ‘occasional’ foods (otherwise known by Healthy Harold as “sometimes” foods) such as fruit muffins, ANZAC slice, banana bread and a sneaky chocolate slice (with zucchini in it!) are baked fresh in the canteen.
The Wholesome Kid’s Cafe follows the NSW Healthy School Canteen guidelines, which encourages school canteens to provide healthy food options to support the growth and learning of students. A minimum of three quarters of food on the menu should fall in the ‘everyday’ category and no more than one quarter can be ‘occasional’ food and drinks.
The canteen has achieved “Great Choice” Status under the Healthy School Canteen initiative by encouraging students to try a range of new and healthy foods.
“We aim to provide variety and introduce students to new foods. Twice a week we offer a cultural food day, where parents and canteen staff can participate by offering up a healthy recipe,” Christine said.
“Placement of items visible to students is key to promoting healthy choices. To encourage fruit consumption, we make ‘apple slinkies’ for students, using a machine that peels, cores and slices the apples. Kids love them!”
Although the school canteen closed for several weeks in term one and two during isolation, COVID-19 has not had too much of an impact on the school’s ability to provide healthy food, thanks to the design of the menu and the procedures in place for collecting lunch orders, which includes a tick-box system.
As well as providing healthy food choices for students, Christine said the canteen has an important role to play in the school community.
“Our cafe has become a hub for teachers, parents and carers too. Our passionate volunteers connect, share ideas and add to the richness and diversity of products that we provide the children."
1. Chop the vegetables as fine as you can!
2. Model healthy eating yourself.
3. Be positive about trying new foods.