Healthy Schools

Teaching and encouraging healthy eating is a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Schools can undermine these classroom messages by having unhealthy food in canteens or tuck shops, by giving children sweets as classroom rewards, or selling them as fundraisers. Find out what to do if you are unhappy with the food available at your child’s school.

Why is it so important to have healthy food in schools?

Healthy LunchboxChildren spend a lot of their day at school and it matters what they eat during that time. Schools and early childhood education centres are important places to promote healthy eating. The way children learn to eat in childhood influences what they eat throughout their lives.

If unhealthy food and drinks are easily available at school, children think it is normal to eat these as everyday foods, rather than having them just as occasional treats.

If your school or preschool offers only healthy food and drinks, it is easier for children to eat good, healthy food.

While healthy eating is part of the school curriculum, other school activities can promote healthy eating too. Canteens, lunchboxes, vending machines, school trips, fundraisers, classroom rewards and sports sponsorship are all opportunities to teach children about healthy food.

Teachers and adults at the school can be good examples for children and model healthy eating behaviour.

Healthy diets improve children's learning, behaviour, concentration, and health. New Zealand research shows school attendance and classroom behaviour improves when children eat healthier food.

Lunch Boxes

Preparing interesting, healthy school lunches takes a little effort, but is worth it. Find out what to include in a Healthy School Lunch Box...

Canteens and Tuck Shops

School canteens and tuckshops influence what children eat. If they sell foods high in salt, fat or sugar, children are likely to choose them over healthier, more nutritious options. Find out more...

School Trips

If the foods and drinks available to children during school trips are healthy options, it reinforces school messages about the importance of good nutrition. Find out more about School Trips...


Sponsorship of school activities, such as sporting events, curriculum activities or extra-curricula activities, may conflict with your school’s healthy eating messages. Find out more about Sponsorships...


Fundraising can be an opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles to the whole school community. Find out more about Fundraising...

School Food Guidelines

Schools are required to promote healthy food and nutrition for all students, but don’t have to sell healthy foods or beverages. Find out more about School Food Guidelines...

Classroom Rewards

Some parents and teachers use food to reward for ‘good’ behaviour. Unfortunately these rewards are often lollies or chocolate. Sweet foods are inexpensive, readily accessible - and children like them, but they are not good nutrition. Find out about alternatives to sweet rewards.. .