FoodChecker: New tool empowering Victorian schools to make healthier choices

FoodChecker is a free tool to help Victorian primary and secondary schools review their canteen menus and get professional nutrition advice on healthier options.

It was developed by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service, a free program run by Nutrition Australia’s Vic Division in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Nutrition Australia has launched a new website to help Victorian school canteens and tuck shops provide healthier food choices, as research shows 99 per cent of Australian children do not eat enough vegetables.

FoodChecker is a free tool to help Victorian primary and secondary schools review their canteen menus and get professional nutrition advice on healthier options. It was developed by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service, a free program run by Nutrition Australia’s Vic Division in partnership with the Victorian Government.

FoodChecker’s database includes thousands of common ingredients, as well as branded food and drink products, classified using a traffic light system – ‘green’ is the everyday choice, ‘amber’ should be selected carefully and ‘red’ food shouldn’t be on the regular menu.

Even if a school doesn’t have a canteen, any business that supplies foods and drinks to Victorian schools and tuck shops can use FoodChecker to find out if their products are classified green, amber or red.

Dietitian and Healthy Eating Advisory Service program manager at Nutrition Australia Vic Division, Margaret Rozman, explained that while schools do great work in promoting healthy eating in their curriculum, students can be inundated with unhealthy options in their school canteens or tuck shops.

“Not only are students not consuming enough fruit and vegetables, but on average around 40 per cent of their energy consumption is derived from junk food, such as cakes, biscuits, confectionary and sugary drinks ,” Ms Rozman said.

“Any teacher can tell you that when children consume unhealthy foods during the day, it affects their ability to concentrate and learn. It’s not just about weight or disease; healthy eating has immediate benefits for students’ mental, physical and academic wellbeing.

“We know small changes to menus – such as swapping ingredients, adding vegetables and reducing portion sizes – can go a long way. We developed FoodChecker to empower schools. Staff can simply enter the details of each food and drink item in their canteen or tuck shop to receive instant feedback, with tailored nutrition advice.

“At a glance, staff can see what percentage of their menu is green, amber or red, and decide what to do next. Every school is different and some schools can make changes overnight, while others will benefit from phasing out certain food items or trialling new recipes before adding them to the regular menu.”

Get started today at www.foodchecker.heas.health.vic.gov.au.

 

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