Taste testing sessions to trial Dungog Public School's new canteen menu

New canteen manager Amy Shepherd.
New canteen manager Amy Shepherd.

With the introduction of the new Healthy Schools Canteen Strategy the Dungog Public School canteen menu is evolving to ensure it meets not only the official requirements but also the tick of taste from the children.

The canteen committee and volunteers have been working with parents and children to meet the guidelines with  taste testing sessions to trial new menu items.

​Luckily the student judges have been a lot kinder than those you may see on popular food themed reality television and many of the trial recipes are now on the  new menu.

In February this year NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes released the Healthy School Canteens Strategy that offers simpler, easier to understand menus consistent with the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The strategy replaces the previous “traffic light” system in schools, which experts have found to be overly complex and too narrow in its consideration of nutrition.

Under the new strategy food such as fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and stir fries will make up at least 75 per cent of the menu. Canteens will be encouraged to promote this category of food.

“Occasional foods”, which will make up the remaining 25 per cent, will need to have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars or higher. The Health Star Rating is a Federal Government initiative that assigns a rating from 0.5 stars to 5 stars for packaged food based on its overall nutritional profile.

Food such as pies and sausage rolls may still be available as occasional foods providing they are above the 3.5 star rating.

 “This is not about restricting choice – it’s about ensuring the choices of food available are healthy ones,” Mr Stokes said.

Luckily the student judges have been a lot kinder than those you may see on popular food themed reality TV. So as nervous as our volunteer chefs have been the feedback has been very positive, with many of the trial recipes now on the  new menu.

The Dungog Public School P&C is very excited to announce the new appointment of the new canteen manager, Amy Shepherd. Amy brings with her a wealth of experience in volunteering in many groups within the community and an interest in working collaboratively with others in a fun environment.

Amy is working closely with the canteen committee to ensure all new canteen guidelines and requirements from the Department of Education and is committed to providing a nutritious and diverse menu for our children.

The canteen is run solely by volunteers and it is their dedication and commitment to our children and healthy eating that is the success of the canteen.

“Volunteering in the canteen a great way to be part of the school community, make new friends and even learn some new skills,” said Mrs Shepherd.

“There are many different roles within the canteen, such as serving, cooking, order prep etc, so there really is a variety of interests.

“Our canteen is only as strong as its volunteer team so if you have a spare few ours once a week, once a month or even just a day here and there throughout the year the canteen team would love to have you on board.”

To volunteer, contact the Dungog Public School office or through the Dungog P and C Facebook page.

Amy Shepherd with a healthy option.

Amy Shepherd with a healthy option.