Mowbray taking student health seriously

Mowbray Heights pupils Tayte Butler and Paige Nicholas buy lunch from canteen manager Teyna Triffitt. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

Mowbray Heights pupils Tayte Butler and Paige Nicholas buy lunch from canteen manager Teyna Triffitt. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

TASMANIA is the only state where fizzy drinks, chips, chocolates, cakes and ice-creams are not banned for sale at school canteens.

All other states and territories have banned or limited junk foods that fall into a ‘‘red’’ category, which are high in fat, sugar and salt.

Northern schools also have the lowest participation rate in the Tasmanian School Canteen Accreditation Program, which promotes healthy eating in schools.

Program chief executive Julie Dunbabin said that while mandating the sale of ‘‘red’’ category foods in school canteens had benefits, interstate examples had shown a lack of monitoring and compliance.

The voluntary accreditation program monitors 120 of the 215 Tasmanian state and independent schools that have canteens.

All follow the traffic light red, amber and green food system, with 44 having achieved accreditation status.

Mowbray Heights Primary School is one of two Northern schools to have achieved silver status, and one of eight Northern schools to have achieved accreditation.

Schools are awarded with a gold, silver and bronze ratings if they adhere to the system, where red foods are banned, a majority of foods fall into the green category, such as salad sandwiches, sushi, or jacket potatoes, and amber foods, such as oven-baked chips, nuggets, hamburgers, must not dominate the menus.

Mrs Dunbabin said the program had experienced some resistance from parents.

‘‘Some parents see the canteen as a treat, and a treat to them is a lolly, chocolate or something not very nourishing,’’ she said.

‘‘(But) healthy school canteens are pivotal to a whole-school approach to healthy eating.’’

The Parents Jury acting campaign manager Dimity Gannon said it was a school’s shared responsibility, alongside parents, to ensure students were living healthy lifestyles.

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