The ACT Nutrition Support Service - ACTNSS » Services » Schools » Canteen menu assessment FAQs

Canteen menu assessment FAQs

The ACT Nutrition Support Service - ACTNSS » Services » Schools » Canteen menu assessment FAQs

Canteen menu assessment FAQs

See also canteen menu assessment process.

Background information
ACT Government Healthy Weight Initiative

Around one quarter of ACT children are overweight or obese. Rates of overweight and obesity in the ACT community have increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Poor diet is a significant risk factor for overweight and obesity. Carrying excess weight places individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers and can reduce life expectancy.

The ACT Government Healthy Weight Initiative aims to address the rising rates of overweight and obesity. It is a whole of government initiative being implemented to effectively plan and develop our neighbourhoods and increase healthy lifestyle choices across a range of settings including schools, communities, workplaces, homes and places where food is provided, sold and consumed.

ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy

The Education Directorate released the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy in February 2015. This followed a Government policy announcement that RED sugary drinks would be phased out from 2014. The policy encourages a whole school approach to the provision and sale of healthy food and drinks.

ACT public schools are required to enter into a standard license agreement with their canteen operator. Under this agreement, the canteen must operate in accordance with the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy 2015 and align menus with the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines.


Canteen menu assessment
What’s the purpose of the canteen menu assessment?

The canteen menu assessment identifies what changes (if any) are needed to ensure the menu complies with the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy. Based on the findings of the assessment, a report is produced that provides feedback on areas that already meet the policy requirements and recommendations on how to improve the menu in line with the policy. 

Is there anything I need to do in preparation for a site visit?

The canteen manager should receive the menu assessment form in the mail a couple of weeks before the site visit. Please complete this the form, providing as much detail as possible, before the site visit and have a copy of the canteen menu ready to give to the nutritionist at the site visit.

What's involved in a site visit?

A nutritionist from ACT Nutrition Support Service will contact the canteen manager to arrange a day and time for the site visit. The nutritionist will visit the canteen and go through the menu assessment form with the canteen manager. The nutritionist will require a copy of any recipes used, information about brand names and specific product details. The site visit should not take longer than an hour. 

What happens after the site visit?

A nutritionist from ACTNSS will phone the Canteen Manager to provide preliminary feedback on the report.

The report will then be posted to the Canteen Manager and the school’s Principal. A copy of the report will also be provided to the Education Directorate.

Schools are able to contact the ACTNSS for free advice and support throughout this process. See contact details below. 

What if the report shows some RED menu items?

Where possible, the report will include recommendations from the ACTNSS on how to change RED menu items to AMBER or even GREEN. Sometimes this is not possible and the RED item will need to be removed from the menu to meet the policy requirements.

In the report, there is an 'actions and timeframe' section. Drawing on the recommendations provided by the ACTNSS, the Canteen Manager completes the 'actions and timeframe' section of the report to demonstrate what changes will be made to the menu to meet the policy. For example, ‘RED ham will be swapped with an AMBER alternative by Term 3, 2016 or by XX date’.

Once this has been completed, the Canteen Manager provides the report to the School Principal, who will then forward the completed report to the Education Directorate. The ACTNSS can provide advice on new or replaced menu items, however a new report will not be provided until the next annual assessment.

The Education Directorate will follow-up with the Canteen Manager and School Principal as required. 

Why doesn't the report recommend brand names?

ACTNSS and ACT Government are not able to endorse branded products, which is why brand names are not specified when recommending suitable alternatives in the report.

We also understand there can be conflicting advice provided by some suppliers regarding the suitability of some products. If you would like advice on suitable products, please contact ACTNSS.

Do you have policy specific questions about the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy?

Please contact Josephine Andersen, Senior Manager Curriculum, Education Directorate, on 02 6205 9350 or email