Food and Nutrition


The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013)
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date advice about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and wellbeing. They are based on scientific evidence and research. The SmartFood Program is based on these guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (2013).

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (2013)
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating diagram below is the national food selection guide. It gives specific information about food groups and the number of serves required from each food group to meet daily recommended intakes of nutrients.
The five food groups include:
• grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties
• vegetables and legumes/beans
• fruit
• milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
• lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes.

Australian Guide to Healthy Eating


Special food requirements
School communities are extremely diverse and the school canteen has a large audience to cater for. Whether you are a primary school, district school, high school or college you will have students of different ages and appetites to satisfy. How much children need to eat each day from the five food groups will depend on their physical size, physical activity level, gender and stage of growth. You can make sure your canteen meets the needs of your students by offering meals in small and large serves, having some more filling items available at recess and offering plenty of GREEN snacks.
You may also have children in your school community that have special dietary requirements for health or cultural reasons. Catering for students with different dietary requirements can be difficult and we suggest calling on your school community to help. Carers often want to be involved and for their child to be able to fully participate in school activities like ordering from the canteen. However, if you are unable to meet the specific requirements of a student always be honest with the parents and child so they know they are unable to eat safely from the canteen.

Please click on the links below for further information regarding recommended serve sizes. These are all based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating 2013.

Serve sizes for children and adolescents.
What is a serve?
A sample meal plan for children

Food Allergy

Some people are allergic to the protein in common foods. Contact with the food can be life threatening and induce what is called an anaphylactic reaction. The most common food triggers of anaphylaxis are:
– peanuts
– cows milk
– egg
– wheat
– soy
– fish and shellfish

For more information please click on the links below to the Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia website

Food Allergy Basics

Food Intolerance

Allergen Specifics

Food Allergy Training

New Best Practice Guidelines to Protect Children from Severe Allergic Reactions in Schools

You may have heard about the National Allergy Strategy to inform how schools manage allergies and anaphylaxis.  This strategy includes best practice guidelines to guide staff and parents in reducing the risk of anaphylaxis in school settings while allowing children to participate in school life.

The guidelines endorse an ‘allergy aware’ approach where appropriate, rather than banning specific food allergens.  Schools can find more information about this on the Allergy Aware website.

Specific requirements for Department of Education schools are outlined in the specific health issues procedures, information and contracts policy.  This policy suggests:

  • All students have an up to date medical management plan including an ASCIA action plan
  • All staff receive education on anaphylaxis management

Individual schools should implement necessary risk minimisation strategies as appropriate to their school community.

It might be a good time to consider a review of your school’s policy and procedures around allergies in the light of these recommendations.

For further information visit:

Coeliac disease
Coeliac disease is a condition where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley) causing damage to the small bowel. Coeliac disease is a serious medical condition and the only treatment is to follow a strict gluten free diet.
Coeliac Australia has more information on coeliac disease and eating gluten free.

Halal food
In Australia we have many people who identify as Muslim and who follow the religious customs of Islam. Many Muslims abide by the laws of Islam that dictate what food can and cannot be eaten. Halal (an Arabic word meaning ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’), is a term given to food that may be consumed according to Islamic law. If your school community requires halal food to be served more information can be found here .

Click here for more information regarding planning a healthy canteen menu.