Do we need school meals in Australia? A discussion paper

Alexandra C Manson, Brittany J Johnson, Kylie Smith, Julie Dunbabin, Deana Leahy, Amy Graham, Danielle Gallegos, Rebecca Golley

Research output: Working paper/PreprintDiscussion paper

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Education is critical in enabling children to reach their full potential. Schools foster learning and quality educational experiences, influencing children’s long-term physical, social, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing, forming and transforming the futures of children. Healthy and confident children can fully engage in learning and maximise their potential.

Over 4 million Australian children and young people attend school for 6-7 hours, 5 days a week, around 40 weeks per year from the age 4 or 5 to about 17 years. The universal reach of the school setting means that schools are well placed to support Australian children of all backgrounds and circumstances.

This paper examines the role and potential for school meals as part of the broader Australian school food system. The intent is to provoke discussion with a range of school food system stakeholders about the current system, but also to stimulate a national conversation about what a novel future school meal system could be.

There are many players or stakeholders responsible for components of the current school food system or could be part of an innovative approach. School meals in Australia would require a paradigm shift and will take time. The first step is to explore this proposition from all perspectives – both in favour and against - through stakeholder dialogue. This dialogue could then inform a national forum and the potential of a national cross-sector coalition to inform an innovation but workable school food model(s) for Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBedford Park
PublisherFlinders University
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • School lunches
  • Education
  • Children's nutrition
  • Australian school food system
  • Discussion paper


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