Canteens are organisations commonly found in schools and workplaces which sell food and snacks of their own choice.
Should school canteens be allowed to sell any food they like is a recent and social argument which causes much conflict.
Many believe that canteens are influencing the rate of obesity and by replacing some foods to more nutritious options but on the other hand others believe there should be education for students and be given the freedom of choice.
Various schools rely on the income from the canteen and therefore should be able to sell any food they wish but selected groups of people think students cannot help but make the wrong choice as many are still young and not aware of the impacts which unhealthy food can have on young bodies.
1st Argument Against
The recent increase in obesity rate has become a major concern in Australian society.
Canteens are full of unhealthy appealing options which are eye catching and more often than not are also the cheaper option.
For example options like a hotdog is around $3.20 over a healthier option a chicken lettuce and mayonnaise asking for $5.00.
The Australian Bureau of statistics (2009) released a study from 2007-2008 where it was found one quarter of all Australian children aged from 5-17 years old were overweight or obese; a shocking and distressing rise of 4% from 1995.
This rising figure is slowly becoming a bigger problem in Australian society where healthy canteen choices are becoming less available and more expensive over time where in today’s society, all parents need to be smart and be alert to the 25% of overweight children, and think of ways to reduce these statistics.
To reduce these problems canteens should not be able to sell any food of their choice and are encouraged to decrease the prices of healthy foods and have more of a variety of nutritious meals.
1st argument for
The solution for battling child obesity may not be in the canteen but in the decision of students.
The Australian healthy school canteen strategy was put in place to improve the quality of school canteen menus, however it’s a voluntary process and no school is obligated to follow the guideline.
Linda Rohanian a head teacher from Malvern Central School in Melbourne says “canteens should not be forced into decisions which will ruin the business but must be wise about the variety of foods on offer to students. Students should be educated about the consequences of unhealthy food before entering a canteen.”
Canteens are not the major contributors to child obesity and therefore students should take responsibility for the foods that are ingested and the long and short term effects on each individual.
Canteens are not the reason behind child obesity and therefore have the privilege of selling foods of their choice.
2nd argument against
The promotion of healthy eating in school canteens should be the absolute most important nutritional health education taught in schools for adolescents.
School canteens should be promoting the Australian guide to healthy eating and all other nutritional guides and eating plans healthy children should follow.
School is a place of learning where students should feel the encouragement from the school, parents and peers to eat and live healthy lifestyles, without this promotion from school canteens students can’t help but make the wrong decision especially without any education or encouragement from schools.
A survey was taken in an Adelaide local primary school on the 28th of April where the canteen staff questioned students from reception to year 5 why they made unhealthy meal choices.
The reasoning was very concise and typical of such young children “because it tastes good” (Coutes, 2014).
These results could be changed if students were taught about healthy nutrition at a younger age and if the canteen was made to sell healthy food, proving schools