Aimed at promoting good health and reducing the burden of chronic diseases, the project will see the development of a national food categorisation system, as well as training resources, to help school communities make appropriate menu choices.
The system and resources will then be provided to all Australian states and territories for optional implementation in all government and non-government schools across Australia to encourage the development and retention of healthy eating patterns in primary and secondary students.
“The Flinders team will engage in a considerable amount of professional and industry consultation throughout this project, thus providing them with a fantastic opportunity to showcase their research capabilities,” project manager Julie Gardner from Flinders Partners, said.
“Success with this project will also enable the University to further demonstrate its credibility nationally in the area of nutrition and dietetics, and place it among the top institutions in this area of research.”
The Flinders consortium began work on the National Healthy Schools Canteen Project last month and, over the next two years will engage in a considerable amount of professional, government and industry consultation to establish the new system.
Coordinated by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the project benefits from a joint collaboration between the University’s Departments of Nutrition and Dietetics, Public Health and Social Health Sciences, the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at Flinders Medical Centre, as well as Flinders Partners, the commercial arm of Flinders University.
Head of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University, and lead researcher for the project, Professor Lynne Cobiac, said canteens play an important role in the school community and as such have a duty of care towards their student customers.
“By providing food to students, canteens have enormous impact on the overall nutritional quality of what kids are eating today,” Professor Cobiac said.
“At this point, many states have already established their own system for managing what foods should and should not be included in canteens. However, what we are looking to establish through this project is a national food categorisation system and resources to ensure a unified and consistent approach across Australia,” she said.
The members of the Flinders team conducting the National Healthy Schools Canteen Project are: Professor Lynne Cobiac, Ms Julie Gardner, Dr Jane Scott and Ms Elizabeth Kellett from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr Claire Drummond from the Department of Paramedic and Social Health Sciences, and Associate Professor John Coveney and Ms Gwyn Jolley from the Department of Public Health.