The alarming rise of childhood obesity worldwide is resulting in an increasing focus on the nutritional quality of the food provided to children at schools. South Africa experiences a range of childhood nutritional challenges from increasing obesity to persistent malnutrition.
Schools can play a vital role by ensuring that the food provided on the school grounds meets the standards of good nutrition for children. The Woolworths Making the Difference educational programme has launched the most comprehensive guide to help South African schools transform to healthy tuck shops.
Following international trends and based on the latest paediatric nutritional guidelines, the Woolworths Making the Difference Healthy Tuck Shop Guide is a user-friendly resource that encourages schools to enable children to make healthy eating choices.
The Guide takes into account that food provision at South African schools ranges from classic full-service tuck shops, to a one-meal-a-day lunch programmes, to vendors selling snack food to children at the school perimeter.
It promotes the formulation of a healthy food policy and provides expert advice from a team of registered Dieticians that includes Shelly Meltzer and Associates - the dietary practice of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) and the Woolworths dietician.
Practical tips for healthy drinks, snacks and cooked lunches show clearly that there are nutritious alternatives that are just as appealing to children as the traditional tuck shop foods that are often of poorer nutritional quality.
The need to ensure that school tuck shops and vendors provide nutritious food for children is a global concern. In more and more countries, states and communities, what food can or can’t be sold to children is even becoming part of legislation.
Many South African schools are well-aware of the need for healthier eating at school and anticipate that the demand for healthy tuck shops will grow. However, there has been a lack of guidance as to how to put this into practice and change perceptions such as children won’t eat healthier foods or that healthier foods are more expensive.
Says Penny Luthi, Brand Manager for the Woolworths Making the Difference educational programme: “Children learn in school about good nutrition and the importance of making healthy eating choices. The Woolworths Making the Difference Healthy Tuck Shop Guide helps schools to properly support this education by ensuring that food provided on the school grounds is in line with the accepted guidelines for children’s nutrition.
Healthy eating transformation
"For example, it just doesn’t make sense to teach children in the classroom that they should “use foods and drinks containing sugar sparingly”, and then serve them sports drinks, fizzy drinks and sweets at break time or “eat fat sparingly” and then to provide pies and doughnuts as the only options.
"We believe that South African schools are keen for the school environment to provide the opportunities for children to put what they learn about healthy eating and healthy lifestyles into practice. This guide helps them to make the transformation, and to actively promote healthy eating habits and well-being in their communities."
The Healthy Tuck Shop Guide is available as a free download on the website www.makingthedifference.co.za/primary which also includes that focus on Good nutrition, Healthy living and the Environment.
- (Health24, September 2010)
Healthy snack and lunchbox ideas
What are school tuck shops serving?