Canteens / Tuckshops making money whilst selling healthy food kids love! Yes it can be done. The Root Cause is proud to showcase Healthy Canteens / Tuckshops that are doing this.
Welcome to this edition of Showcasing Healthy Canteens / Tuckshops. We’re super excited to be sharing Bli Bli State School’s Tuckshop. A small group of passionate mum’s organised for the school to host The Mad Food Science Program at their school last year. They then used this as a catalyst to start changing the school canteen to healthier options. It’s another example of what can be achieved with some passionate parents prepared to be a stand for children’s health. You can check our other showcases below:
- Kylie Bendetti’s Canteen from Casuarina Street Primary School in Katherine, NT
- Kathy’s Kitchen Canteen at Blairmount Public School, NSW
- Hallie Burgess from Tyalla Primary School Canteen, Coffs Harbour, NSW.
Upfront I love that this school has commitment to children’s health. They knew changes were made. They took action to get the whole school on the same page about how food affects the mood, behaviour and more. They did this by hosting The Mad Food Science Program. We even parked the bus on the school grounds for 2 days – it really made a big statement to parents and children. Then they used this as the catalyst for change in the canteen. They knew the old heat and serve menu was not in the best interests of children’s health, and so they spent the time required to work out how best to make the changes to healthier options made on-site.
It wasn’t always easy. We certainly had some challenges, but we knew things were being done for the right reasons.
Clare, P&C President shares
Bli Bli State School Tuckshop is a P&C run tuckshop. Hear what Clare, the current P&C President has to say about how the P&C view the canteen and the changes they have made.
Q: How long has your canteen been offering healthy food choices for the children?
We overhauled our menu in Term 4 2017.
Q: What was the catalyst for changing to a healthy menu?
We reviewed our business as a whole and discovered that there were areas where we could be doing better and this included the reviewing the menu.
Q: How did you go about transitioning to the healthier menu?
Initially we were going to take a gentle approach and change or remove items slowly, but in the end decided that we would just make the changes quickly. It gave us the opportunity to put a positive spin on things by marketing it as a new menu. We also explained to the kids and community why healthy choices were important (the Mad Food Science program helped a lot!).
Q: Can you share with us your current menu
Click on the image below to download the menu.
Q: What are your top 3 most popular items?
- Toasted sandwiches continue to be a huge seller
- pikelets (we’ve had a huge increase in these since removing commercially produced cookies)
- Weekly specials like nachos, sushi bowls and smoothies are always popular.
Q: How do the students and parents view the school canteen. Do they see it as a treat for the children or is it more an every day thing?
Both. However with the healthier choices we are seeing an increase in the number of regular customers who are buying daily and weekly rather than only ordering once or twice per term as a treat. (this is Bel – how exciting is that. Parents ordering more because the food is healthy)
Q: What has been the students response?
The kids have been great – they are more resilient than we expected and still see Tuckshop as a treat (just with healthier options).
Q: What was the parents response?
Parents took more time to understand why the changes were necessary, however the overwhelming majority of responses have been positive. We’ve seen an increase in people ordering more regularly, rather than just once or twice per term as a ‘treat’.
Q: How have teachers responded to the change?
The Principal, teachers and school staff have been incredibly supportive of the changes. They see first hand how food impacts some children.
Q: How many orders do you receive a day? Is this more or less than the old menu?
- Mon – Wed – Approx 50 – 70 orders per day
- Thurs – around 100
- Frid – around 150.
Q: How is the canteen run? Eg. P&C, volunteers, tender etc
We are a P&C run Canteen.
Q: How many people do you have working in the canteen?
One paid staff member and a roster of volunteers. (Bel here – Leanne is the Canteen Manager and she is a fire cracker – she’s amazing!)
Q: Do your orders come in manually or are you using software to help manage orders? If so, what software are you using?
We introduced online ordering with Schoolshop Online in 2016 and are working on increasing our orders this way however we are still accept orders over the counter.
Q: What government policy does your canteen work to?
Queensland Government Smart Choices Guidelines
Q: How do you reduce the impact on the environment for things like plastic cups, ice blocks, salad containers etc? Where do you source them from?
At present, our primary focus is on providing more healthy choices and we do the best we can with our packaging.
Q: What are the main objections you have had to overcome in transitioning to a healthier menu, and how did you handle them?
Overcoming the long held beliefs about the Tuckshop was a challenge. We spent many months discussing the following with the school, staff and the community:
“It’s my choice what I feed my children, not yours” – true, however our menu is only a small portion of weekly meals. At home you have the freedom to choose.
“Tuckshop is a treat, I want them to order something fun” – Tuckshop is still a treat – we have lots of fun food on our menu, plus the excitement for the kids is when lunch arrives in a brown bag, delivered by Student Leaders and is exciting because it’s not what is packed in their lunchbox!
“I feed my kids healthy enough at home – Tuckshop doesn’t need to do it for me” – You are doing an awesome job at home! We are supporting what you are teaching at home. We operate in an educational environment and want to help children to explore a variety of food and understand how (and why) to make smart food choices.
Q: Does serving healthier options cost you more in money?
Definitely not. Making so many of our items fresh and onsite gives us greater flexibility with the wholesale costs therefore our margins are better.
Q: Does serving healthier options take longer for you to prepare?
Time management is an important part of any food service business.
We get satisfaction knowing exactly what is in the food we are serving – lots of fresh ingredients with less preservatives and additives.
Q: Is your canteen making more or less money than when using the old menu?
Our turnover is steady however our net profit has increased.
Q: Do you have any tips to help other canteens transition to healthier menus?
BE BRAVE! Do it for the right reasons and believe 100% in it.
Also if you have fresh food left over, you can do a shout out to teachers who will quite often buy these for their dinner. Alternately, you can advertise them on your tuckshop facebook page.
Q: Do you have a favourite healthy recipe which the kids love that you can share with other canteens wishing to offer healthier options? If so, can you please share the ingredients, method and a picture too?
Our Sushi Bowls are always popular. They are the same ingredients but in a bowl – rolling sushi was too time consuming. They cost approx. $1.50 per unit to make sell $3.50. To get a copy of the recipe, fill in your name and email address here and it will be emailed straight to you:
What I love About Bli Bli
Leanne, the Canteen Manager from Bli Bli is keen to make sure the healthy choices message spreads through the whole school. She is now catering for class parties and also staff / P&C meetings. Here’s an example of what she catered for a P&C meeting – personally I think this is a great way to get parents to come along to the P&C meetings. For their sports events, she caters for “Tuckshop On The Oval”. Last year there were lollies, chips, soft drink. This year Leanne provided sushi bowls, chicken or ham salad wraps, poppers, water and Quelch ice sticks.
Leanne’s take on her role is that she’s providing food to support an educational environment, not an amusement park. She loves knowing the food she is serving is assisting the kids to go back to class to learn and providing teachers with a better learning environment. I love this so hard!