Canteens and Tuck Shops

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

This contradicts healthy eating messages children get from home and in the classroom. It is confusing for children and encourages unhealthy eating habits. It also means the school is supporting and profiting from unhealthy eating.

Fortunately, many school canteens offer tasty and interesting options to children, including sandwiches and wraps, baked potatoes and sushi.

Food in the canteen should follow Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines - see reference below. They should include interesting and appealing foods from each of the five food groups with an emphasis on fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain cereals. Water should be freely available to all children all day and always favoured as the first choice of drink. Food and drinks high in sugar, fat or salt, should be limited or not available at all.

What you can do

Write to your school principal and the Board of Trustees urging them to put in place a healthy food policy that covers all food eaten and served at school.
  • Print material from our website and show it to the school Principal
  • Put your name on the canteen roster and get involved in the canteen committee
  • Suggest healthy food items for the canteen menu
  • Join the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and seek support from other concerned parents.

Vending Machines

School vending machines raise much needed funds. However, most stock unhealthy snacks and drinks that are high in energy (calories). Children shouldn’t have these foods or drinks on a daily basis.

Having unhealthy foods in easily accessible vending machines:

  • makes it easy for children to buy unhealthy snacks and drinks
  • replaces healthy food in their diet
  • undermines the school's attempts to teach children about good nutrition.

What you can do

Request your school either removes all vending machines or replaces junk food and soft drinks with healthy alternatives.


Food and Nutrition Guidelines for infants and toddlers (0-2) children (2-12) and adolescents. The Ministry of Health will update these guidelines in 2011.