I was chatting with a school counsellor about the problems *we* face... being THAT MOTHER. The one that groans inside when our child runs out of class clutching a Freddo frog from another kid's birthday. The one who asks at the fete meeting "Will there be any healthy food?" The one who says "Can't we get better snacks at the canteen?" and "Shouldn't the school be sending a better message about food?" So... he put the question back to me... to put to you...What have other schools DONE to tackle this issue?.. I'll kick off with our school that banned food rewards. That was a no-brainer! Instead of a drawer of lollies the teachers have "Treasure Box" full of silly tid-bits that the kids get to choose from.
At the end of the year, the Principal reminds parents via the newsletter that they discourage candy canes and other food gifts "due to allergies and food intolerances. A card is enough -( thanks to Frilly for putting this topic forward)
My kids went to a school that did not have a canteen, so all lunches were packed from home, so much easier - Kathy
Our school has banned lollies at the school disco - Leigh
Food policies for birthdays etc at our school - no food allowed due to allergies.
Our canteen has been lovely, they often ask and accommodate our needs. They have some stuff we can't eat, but they also put out things like fruit kebabs, apple slinkies, etc. We found that when we got alongside the canteen ladies they were very happy to work through the menu with us and see what was ok and what was not - for example they buy in packet cake mixes, but they were happy to take input on what our kids could have and ordered in the brand without the additives. With lollies, they bought a pack of naturals and keep them in a special jar for our kids. It's not too hard to have a few natural juice poppers, milk poppers, or water bottles in the canteen, so even if they aren't popular with all the kids there is always an option for ours. Our canteen caters for the fete, so they have their normal menu as well as special stuff. When there are special days on, we work with them a day or so in advance to figure out the alternatives. For example, my son's year group had a 'machines' science day where kids could order a special lunch of 'nuts and bolts' (chicken bites and chicken sticks I think), tyres (donuts), oil (apple juice), etc. there were a couple things he couldn't have, but they just left those out and put in extra of the things he could have - Lindsey
Get more involved in the P&C to have input on fundraisers. I'd much prefer things like cards/wrapping paper or the sponsorship walks and activity days rather than the chocolate drives and cookie dough - Lindsey
Our school is in the process of converting from "bad foods" to healthy foods. Lollies were phased out, even though they still sell chips, and curly whirlies amongst other things. They have meal deals every fortnight that provide a "healthier' option. From memory, this week it was a hot dog in wholemeal roll, yoghurt, sultanas and packet of popcorn. Even though the parents requested healthier food, the meal deals are not selling. The foods the parents did suggest, such as sushi, casseroles, etc are too impractical for our canteen lady to make, and we cannot get parent helpers to assist - Janine
Our school replaced the chocolate fundraisers with a fundraising spell-a-thon where kids are sponsored (normally by family) per word they get right. They raise more money and nobody has a box of chocolate in their house. Unfortunately I still have to battle when they give lollies as rewards - Kristen
I work in a role that encourages healthy eating and physical activity for kids. These websites might give you some ideas for policy change, canteens and fundraising if you haven't seen them already - Parent's Jury: healthy schools http://www.parentsjury.org.au/key-concerns/healthy-schools Parent's Jury: healthy food ideas that make a profit http://www.parentsjury.org.au/healthy-fundraising-campaign-guide/healthy-fundraising-ideas-that-make-a-profit#profit Sweet Deals (this is a resource for Canadian schools, so most of the specific product deals and companies aren't relevant to Australia but it still has lots of good info and ideas that can be used here) http://www.cspinet.org/schoolfundraising.pdf - Lisa
Our school designated a bake shop to buy bday cupcakes from....we can only serve bday cupcakes from that shop (though not fs, it's allergy-friendly...). Also, no sweet treats in the bday goody bags (party favors). For snack time, parents are assigned a specific snack to bring each week....again, not fs 100%, but healthy (no artificial additives) and nut/peanut free - Caroline
My son has a 'mummy approved' treat jar the teacher keeps for him & gives him one of those when birthday treats are handed out in class. The tuck shop also stocks FAILSAFE icy poles - Samantha
Our Principal visited a large independent school that had gone additive-free, and now wish they hadn't because of how much time and effort has had to go into policing non-compliance from parents. What she has started this year, though, is a plan for children/parents to donate the $ they would normally spend on cards and candy canes that often end up in the bin to better the lives of children elsewhere - specifically a village in Fiji that older students will be visiting next year to help build houses (P-12 school). Each class has discussed and decided what to put their money towards (food plants, school supplies, etc.) We'll see soon if parents resist the temptation to simply do both – Tracy
Our kinder teachers have asked what foods my son "can eat" & are going to make a halloween treat tomorrow to FS ingredients for the 'whole class'. I wait how it turns out. But instead of a black icing witches hat with orange sprinkles, we have come up with a white icing ghost cone with carob icing for face - Emma.
When there's a reason for a party (eg farewell to a prac teacher), they use fruit break/crunch and sip time to have a party. Kids bring chopped up fruit or vegetables and it's all laid out on a table. Teacher provides bowls, spoons & serviettes, and the kids can help themselves to a beautiful spread of colourful food. He has been impressed with how much the kids enjoy the variety and chance to try new things, and they often ask for seconds.
The other thing this does is restore some of the purpose of a class party. It's supposed to be a social occasion and a celebration, but so often it turns into a race to see who gets the good chips or the last marshmallow. This way it's more an emphasis on the social sharing of simple and delicious food – Lindsey
Our school has gone 'nude food' and Opal (http://www.playford.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=1648 - South Australian government program to promote healthy eating ) are visiting the school with recipes and breakfast this term, while not failsafe it's a step in the healthy food direction - Denise
Our school canteen doesn't have a lot for a failsafe child, but it is pretty good health wise. Recess you can buy fruit, muffins with cheese and tomato, or baked beans toasties. They have sushi available for lunch, and frequent Indian food. There is very little in the way of typical school rubbish - Nicola
It does take small steps... I know that when my son first started school, many of the things I've mentioned were not in place and the lady in charge of the canteen was not as receptive and felt all the kids needed their 'treats' at the canteen. He's in year 4 now and things have changed a lot over time, but I'm aware it has come in tip-toes rather than a sudden leap - Lindsey
Note from Howard: Thanks for your positive ideas. If you are taking action, you can tell the school that the additives we avoid are explicitly recognised in the National Healthy Schools Canteen Guidelines (page 47): http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/NationalHealthySchoolCanteens2011.pdf
More ideas in http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/support-factsheets/schools-healthy-choice-canteens