You can now have your say on healthy food and drinks in schools.
The Health Coalition Aotearoa has made an easy submission guide so that anyone – teachers, parents, health professionals, and kids – can help make our schools healthier places for tamariki.
The Ministry of Education consultation is open until June 2, but the Government currently is not recommending it a duty for schools to provide only healthy food, or a duty in high schools to provide only healthy drinks.
“The reality is most primary schools are already fizz-free, so regulating them will make very little difference,” HCA Chair Boyd Swinburn said.
“High schools and healthy food in schools is the real next fight to protect children’s food environments on school grounds. In 2016 data, just a quarter of secondary schools had only healthy beverages,” said Mr Swinburn.
“Twenty-five per cent of all schools are covered by the free healthy school lunches programme Ka Ora, Ka Ako which already has nutrition principles for food and drink. The Government could use these existing principles to cover healthy food, not just drinks, in all schools for children of all ages.
“As the government changes, we go back and forth on the issue of child nutrition. Much stronger policies than the proposal announced today were introduced in 2008, only to see them removed with a change of government.”
Mr Swinburn said the food and drinks we serve to children and allow on school grounds is an essential health issue.
Setting a national policy in regulations for healthy food and drink in schools makes it easier for school boards and principals, rather than having to revisit it individually every few years, he added.
“This consultation is run by the Ministry of Education and aimed at schools, but equally, we encourage health professionals to submit, as our public health experts will be doing.”
Dietician Mafi Funaki-Tahifote says removing sugary drinks from schools is a step in the right direction. She encourages communities to rally behind the consultation, to apply it to all schools.
“We have a saying in Pacific communities that it takes a village to raise a child, and the school is a big part of that village,” she said.