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Schools will fail grade on healthy food guidelines

7 May 2008

Schools will fail the grade on healthy food guidelines: Greens

Many schools will get a fail grade under the new Food and Nutrition for Healthy Confident Kids guidelines that come into effect on 1 June, according to the Green Party's latest school food survey.

"More than 60 percent of the 50 schools we surveyed are still selling pies, hotdogs and cookies as a staple part of their school menus and 64 percent are selling cakes and slices. These sorts of foods undermine children's ability to learn and concentrate in class - and their long term health and wellbeing - as well as the new guidelines," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"There have been some significant improvements, with the sale of pies, hotdogs and chips down by 14 percent, and 20 percent fewer schools selling cookies, chocolate and cake. But there is still no fruit on the menu of 40 percent of the schools surveyed, and 14 percent do not offer rolls or sandwiches."

"But while some schools are clearly pulling up their socks in response to the school guidelines that were issued last year, others urgently need to lift their game if they are to make the grade by 1 June.

"Many parents are facing economic challenges, so price is an important consideration in lunch choices. The best and most cost-effective option is for parents and children to make healthy school lunches at home.

"It is alarming to see that unhealthy options such as pies are cheaper in one third of schools. This must change.

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"Another concern is that many canteens are still run for a profit, and this often comes at the expense of children's health, as it's obviously cheaper to heat up frozen pies than to provide fresh fruit and filled rolls."

The survey of 50 schools found 62 percent of schools still sell pies, and in 30 percent of surveyed schools, pies are cheaper than filled rolls or sandwiches. There was no fruit on the menu of 40 percent of the schools surveyed while 14 percent of the schools do not offer rolls or sandwiches.

"Our latest survey shows a definite improvement over the past year. On the plus side, only four schools still have fizzy drinks on their menus. 44 percent of schools sell water, while 44 percent do not sell water. Two schools do not have a drinks menu, and two schools sold flavoured water. One school has a 'water only' drink policy," Ms Kedgley says.

Almost two thirds (64 percent of schools) sell cookies, cake and chocolate, while one third (32 percent) don't sell them.

Four schools source their lunches primarily from fast food chain Subway. Many primary schools offer combo deals which include fruit. Six schools had rolls/sandwiches that cost the same as burgers. One in 10 schools serve sushi at least two days a week.

Compared to last year's survey, sales of pies/hotdogs/sausage rolls have decreased 14 percent, fewer schools sell chips, 20 percent fewer schools sell cookies, chocolate and cake, and more schools (60 percent, compared to 48 percent) offer fruit. Fewer schools have a situation where pies are cheaper than rolls and there are fewer schools without rolls on the menu.

More schools sell yoghurt (38 percent this year, compared to 34 percent last year), more schools offer water, and more schools serve lunch more than one day a week.

"Promoting healthy food and nutrition is a vital part of the school curriculum. Supporting children to start and maintain healthy eating habits from a young age will help their learning and create lifelong preferences for wholesome food, while effectively combating obesity and diabetes," Ms Kedgley says.

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

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

This year's findings
Schools Surveyed: 50

Menus obtained: 49 (one school had taken down their menu because "The canteen is closed at present while the Board of Trustees and the PTA make provision for it to meet the new Health and Safety Regulations and the Healthy Eating Guidelines. We CAN promise you a revised healthy menu and the possibility of the canteen being open twice a week.")

Which is cheaper, a pie or a roll? : In 30 percent of surveyed schools, pies were cheaper than filled rolls or sandwiches. Out of the schools which sell both pies and rolls/sandwiches 12 percent have rolls/sandwiches cheaper than pies, and 6 percent have pies and rolls/sandwiches at the same price

Fruit: 40 percent of schools do not have fruit on the menus.

Fizzy drinks: Four schools still have fizzy on their menus, with two of them only selling 'sugar free' options like Sprite Zero and Sugar Free L&P. 88 percent do not sell fizzy drinks

Rolls/Sandwiches: 14 percent of schools do not offer rolls or sandwiches, 8 percent offer Subway, 78 percent offer rolls/sandwiches

Pies: 62 percent sell pies, 28 percent do not sell pies, 8 percent do not sell pies but sell either burgers, sausage rolls, 'hot bites' or pizza

Chips: 12 percent still sell chips, 64 percent do not sell chips of any form, and 24 percent sell corn chips, shapes or popcorn

Yoghurt: 62 percent do not sell yoghurt, 38 percent do sell yoghurt

Cookie/Cake/Chocolate: 32 percent do not sell, 64 percent do sell, one school sells Cookie Time smart cookies

Muesli Bars: 20 percent sell muesli bars 80 percent do not

Water: 44 percent sell water, 44 percent do not sell water, two schools do not have a drinks menu, and two schools sell flavoured water

Interesting titbits:
Four schools are sourcing their lunches primarily from Subway.
Many primary schools are doing combo deals which include fruit
Six schools have rolls/sandwiches that cost the same as burgers
10 percent of schools offer sushi at least two days a week
One school have a 'water only' drink policy

Compared to 2007
Pies/hotdogs/sausage rolls have decreased 14 percent
Fewer schools selling chips
20 percent fewer schools selling cookies, chocolate and cake
More schools are offering fruit
Fewer schools have a situation where pies are cheaper than rolls
Fewer schools without rolls on the menu
More schools with yoghurt
More schools offering water
More schools are offering lunch more than one day a week


Past results
2005
98 percent of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls
72 percent sell chips - (in five of 50 schools those were corn chips, and in one wedges)
80 percent of schools sell cookies/cakes/chocolate/donuts
In 68 percent of schools the menu does not include fruit
In 24 percent of schools the roll or sandwich is more expensive than the pie
In 22 percent of schools there is no roll or sandwich on the menu
30 percent have yoghurt on the menu.
16 percent of schools sell muesli bars
24 percent list water on the menu
In 8 percent school lunches are only available one day a week

2006
85 percent of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls
63 percent sell chips - (including corn chips)
90 percent of schools sell cookies/cakes/chocolate/donuts
In 70 percent of schools the menu does not include fruit
In 30 percent of schools the roll or sandwich is more expensive than the pie
In 15 percent of schools there is no roll or sandwich on the menu
22 percent have yoghurt on the menu
12 percent of schools sell muesli bars
31 percent list water on the menu
In 13 percent, school lunches are only available one day a week

2007
84 percent of schools sell pies, hotdogs, 'hotbites' or sausage rolls
40 percent sell chips - (including corn chips)
82 percent of schools sell cookies/cakes/chocolate/donuts
In 52 percent of schools the menu does not include fruit
In 55 percent 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 percent have yoghurt on the menu
12 percent of schools sell muesli bars
39 percent list water on the menu
In 12 percent school lunches are only available one day a week


ENDS

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