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Annual tuckshop survey: pies, chips still staples

28 May 2007
Annual tuckshop survey shows pies, chips still staples

For the third year running the Green Party school lunch survey has found that sausage rolls, hot dogs, pies, biscuits and other sugary, fatty foods are still the staple food on offer in New Zealand schools, despite increased awareness of the dangers of childhood obesity and the release of Food and Nutrition Guidelines for schools.

The survey of 50 schools found that 84% of schools still sell pies, hot dogs, sausage rolls or hot bites. There was no fruit on the menu of 48% of the schools surveyed, and fewer schools were offering rolls and sandwiches than in last year's survey.

"Given the continued focus on childhood obesity, and rising rates of type 2 diabetes and dental decay it was extremely disappointing and frankly baffling to find that schools are still selling foods that undermine rather than contribute to children's health and their ability to concentrate and learn in class," Green Party Health Spokesperson Ms Kedgley says.

"Most parents wouldn't feed their children a constant diet of pies, sausage rolls, donuts and chips, so why do we allow our schools to sell this sort of food?

Ms Kedgley welcomed the slight improvements in some areas - a reduction in the number of schools selling chips for example - but overall the results were a disappointment.

"I am aware there are some schools taking the lead in providing only healthy, nutritious options. However, most schools are selling lunches inconsistent with the Food and Nutritional Guidelines which stipulate that schools should not provide unhealthy foods such as biscuits, pies and pastries.

"The survey shows that simply waiting for schools to improve their menus voluntarily isn't going to work. We need to make the Food and Nutrition Guidelines mandatory, so that all schools have a statutory obligation to only sell healthy food and drink," Ms Kedgley says.

"Worryingly, in the majority of schools surveyed, rolls and sandwiches were more expensive than pies and other unhealthy items. Young people generally have low disposable incomes and are likely to opt for the cheap and unhealthy school canteen options. Children from poorer families are especially vulnerable to the negative health effects of prices which favour unhealthy options. I believe this is at odds with the intention of the school food guidelines," Ms Kedgley says.

"The Guidelines point to evidence that young people's food choices can affect their attendance and behaviour. School canteens selling unhealthy food are having a negative impact on school learning environment's and pupils ability to learn. This is totally unacceptable, and must change."

Last month Ms Kedgley helped to launch the 'Food and Nutrition Guidelines' and the $12 million Nutrition Fund that the Greens secured in post-election negotiations. The fund will be used to help schools implement the guidelines, and provide training for two people from every school in New Zealand.



In 2005 the Green Party conducted a survey of 50 primary and secondary schools to ascertain what children were able to purchase for school lunches.

Since then we have repeated the survey each year to monitor if there had been any improvement, particularly following the heightened publicity over childhood obesity.

Last year we were disappointed to find that little had changed. Sadly the results were similar for 2007.

There has been a minimal shift away from fat-saturated savoury products being offered in school tuck shops, however, there had been a reasonable reduction in high sugar products.

While most schools offered healthier options like rolls and sandwiches, the number that did so had decreased from previous years, and in the majority of those that did, these healthier options were more expensive than pies and other saturated fat foods. This suggests that young people, who generally have low disposable incomes, will opt for the cheap and unhealthy foods.

Most schools were still offering pies and other high fat foods, and sadly in some they were the only choice.

Among the schools surveyed, just over half offered fruit in school canteens and on lunch orders. This was a significant increase.

Less than half of the schools surveyed offered water in canteens and on lunch orders. But the majority sold unhealthy alternatives. While the sale of fizzy drinks was low among surveyed schools, the sale of non-fizzy sugar-based drinks is substantial.

School Lunch Survey Results comparison


98% of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls.
72% sell chips - ( in five of 50 schools those were corn chips, and in one wedges).
80% of schools sell cookies / cakes / chocolate / donuts
In 68% of schools the menu does not include fruit.
In 24% of schools the roll or sandwich is more expensive than the pie.
In 22% of schools there is no roll or sandwich on the menu.
30% have yoghurt on the menu.
16% of schools sell muesli bars.
24% list water on the menu.
In 8% school lunches are only available one day a week.


85% of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls.
63% sell chips - ( including corn chips)
90% of schools sell cookies / cakes / chocolate / donuts
In 70% of schools the menu does not include fruit.
In 30% of schools the roll or sandwich is more expensive than the pie.
In 15% of schools there is no roll or sandwich on the menu.
22% have yoghurt on the menu.
12% of schools sell muesli bars.
31% list water on the menu.
In 13% school lunches are only available one day a week.


84% of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls.
40% sell chips - (including corn chips).
82% of schools sell cookies / cakes / chocolate / donuts.
In 52% of schools the menu does not include fruit.
In 55% of schools the roll or sandwich is more expensive than the pie.
In 24% of schools there is no roll or sandwich on the menu.
34% have yoghurt on the menu.
12% of schools sell muesli bars.
39% list water on the menu.
In 12% school lunches are only available one day a week.

Menu example:

This school uses a takeaway shop to do its lunches.

$2 Packs with Chips $2.00
3 Chicken Nuggets & chips $2.00
3 Fish bites & chips $2.00
Hotdog &chips $2.00
Donut & chips $2.00
Spring Roll & Chips $2.00

Chips ½ Scoop $1.00
Donut (Separate) $1.00

Ham $2.50
Fish $2.50

$5 Meals
Small chicken/pork fried rice $5.00
Crumbed fish or chicken with Coleslaw and egg $5.00

Fruit Juice - can $1.20

Tomato .50c
Tartare .50c

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