James Hargest College removes unhealthy items from canteen menu

James Hargest College students Mahnoor Kamali and Madison McKenzie show what 17kg of sugar looks like after the schools ...
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James Hargest College students Mahnoor Kamali and Madison McKenzie show what 17kg of sugar looks like after the schools canteen was revised, removing most unhealthy options, including 17kg worth of sugar from soft drinks.

Removing more than half a tonne of sugar from an Invercargill school's canteen is just one of its changes towards healthier lunches.

Each week fresh sandwiches, salads, rolls, and wraps are made, pots of soup are cooked and sushi is delivered to James Hargest College.

The food options are all part of the school's goal of providing healthier food for its staff and students.

The process started about two years ago, when discussions took place between the school, Healthy Families Invercargill and the Heart Foundation about how to remove sugary drinks from the menu.

Since then, the school has removed 17 kilograms of sugar a week, 680kg in a year, from its canteen.

Water and milk are now the only drinks sold.

The school has moved towards, not only removing the sugary drinks, but also removing most of the less healthy food items from its menu and replacing them with healthier options.

Canteen manager Sharon Fosbender said initially there were some concerns that students would not be on board, and takings would be down, but that has not been the case.

At the start students had asked about certain products, but those queries had died down, and now they simply accepted the new menu happily, she said.

Staff had worked with the students while implementing the new options, and there was also an ideas box for students to make suggestions about healthy food options.

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Previously the menu had included pastry-based items such as pies and sausage rolls but they had been mostly removed and replaced with items such as salad wraps and rolls, sushi, vegetable soup.

It had also dropped from selling eight boxes of pies to less than one each week.

School associate principal Nadia Rose said it had been a combined effort of staff and students.

"We see this as an ongoing process of education and evolving the provision of healthy food."

Healthy Families Invercargill manager Jared Cappie said the "awesome" changes the canteen made in the school environment meant the healthy choice was now an easier choice.

This had also driven a behavioural change from the students who were now looking for healthier options.

 - Stuff

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