After just a few months back in Australia, I am still asking myself the same question. Why are school canteens so bad here. With a growing obese population it should maybe be time for the government to step in?
School canteen does not just offer better nutrition but also education and social values; they could be environmental friendly and also support the Australian farming industry.
Kids don’t need to have their stomachs filed up, they need their body to get nutrients.
School canteen program
Basically it is all about snack. I was horrified by this in Manila and India but it is not better here.
Kids start school pretty late, 9 AM, meaning they have time for breakfast, so why a snack at 10 Am? and another at 11.30? and one at 1.30 PM? Where is lunch?
Back in France there are no morning snacks, they tried it and cancelled them after few years as kids were obviously putting on weight…
Food can be simple, taste delicious, being nutritive and healthy but the way it is serve is also important. Sitting with a plate and cutlery, learning table manners, drinking water… It is all part of education and should be present at school.
My kids told me they do not have time to eat their home made lunch as they have only 10 minutes, on the carpet of their classroom… One has dyspraxia and is already messy, I can not picture him eating on the ground all crumpled. The other one is tiny and need proper nutrients for growth but he is to busy playing…
At a young age lunch is essential for growth and development, 50% of their protein intake should happen then and would help the digestion to release slowly the nutrients needed for brain attention in the afternoon. And so much more.
It is easy to complain but more difficult to change things. When asking schools you realize they truly do their best with what they have.
Lack of space, meaning none for lunch as they battle to have enough classrooms.
Bad food canteen as they follow the state regulations and can not offer to have a program on their own. They already fight with parents to avoid sugar.
Lack of employees. The teachers need their breaks too and, quite often, public schools depend on parents volunteers for those extra works as meal supervision.
Obviously the government does not give priority to nutrition at school, it is at the bottom of the pyramid after academics of course but also, sports, activities (like chess or computer learning) and play time… meaning for a healthy growing kid it is all about learning and playing and not about eating properly…
NUTRITION is the foundation! Giving them an allocated time frame of 30 minutes a day at noon is essential, not only for growth but also for sports and brain activities.
What can be done through better canteen
Allowing kids to have one decent meal a day. Schools will say that they can not know what kids eat at home and it is difficult to balance their daily food intake at lunch… I would say the reverse. If a kid has at least one good meal a day it would be amazing!
Through good nutrition habits at a young age you are shaping good nutrition habits in adults. You avoid most of the diseases related to food consumption. Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, hormones and thyroid issues, depression and so much more.
Teach kids to be environmental friendly, no plastic, portion size to avoid overeating, no waste.
Support Australian farmers by buying directly from them.
Avoiding waste by asking supermarkets to deliver unsold fresh food. Who cares if some vegetables do not look nice if they are cooked in soup or stew.
Socialisation with kids all sitting together.
Education with cooking classes, introduction to divers food culture, table manner, biology, introducing nutrition to the curriculum…
In a world full of plastic and processed food, I really think school should be an environment free of those things.
Teaching good healthy habits for healthier adults and helping brain development for better education achievement!
In 2013 the Australian government posted this on their website: ” The school canteen is a great place to promote an enjoyment of healthy eating. For students who use the canteen regularly, the food purchased makes a significant contribution to their total food intake and nutrition; therefore it makes sense to ensure the best food possible is available to enhance their ability to learn and take in the information presented to them in class.
For students who don’t use the canteen regularly, the canteen still plays an important educational and modelling role for healthy eating habits.
There are many aspects of a child’s life that may be restricted in an educational setting. For example: the type of reading material accessed in the library, internet access and visual material (DVD) and the clothes they wear. It is appropriate to restrict unhealthy food in an educational setting. The canteen also plays an important role within the broader school environment – that of reinforcing knowledge, skills and behaviours about healthy eating and lifestyle which are taught in the classroom. Food provided at school has a considerable influence on the development of children’s long-term eating habits, food preferences and attitudes towards food. The school canteen plays a vital role in promoting healthy foods and creating a school culture of healthy eating.
Food preferences are developed in childhood. By promoting and encouraging healthier food choices during childhood, it is anticipated that healthy eating habits will be carried through to adulthood and may go some way to help prevent chronic disease later in life. The focus of the NHSC project is to encourage the development and reinforcement of healthy eating patterns at school, promoting a balanced healthy eating pattern rather than focusing on weight management.”
Very well said… What has been done? What can be done when schools don’t even have proper canteen?
Other country do it, Australia can do it!
For now they try to ban sugar, it is one good step, but they do not offer solutions to replace the actual canteen system…
Look after yourselves, eat well and be happy.