Implementation of mandatory nutritional guidelines in South Australian primary school canteens: A qualitative study

Elizabeth Abery, Claire Drummond

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Primary schools are identified as being in a primary position to offer nutrition education. Moreover, primary schools can offer an environment which is conducive to the promotion of healthy eating while influencing eating behaviours of children to benefit their health, well-being and academic development and performance. School canteens are one area where a healthy ethos can be encouraged and within Australia, canteens have been the target of recommended or mandated healthy eating state government policies. This is comparable to other Australian health policies mandated in schools in an effort to support good nutrition and physical health among students. Using a qualitative case study approach, this article discusses the implementation of the 'Right Bite Healthy Food and Drinks Strategy for South Australian Schools and Preschools' (Right Bite). The case study was undertaken in two primary schools to gain a thorough and in-depth investigation of emerging issues regarding the school canteen and used focus group and face-to-face interviews as well as observation. The data collected were coded and analysed into themes. Respondents claimed that Right Bite had merit although barriers such as: resistance from parents and children to purchase healthy options, difficulties associated with serving and preparing fresh food at school, inadequate canteen facilities, and counteracting heavy marketing of unhealthy foods to children impeded implementation. While Right Bite encourages South Australian school children to make better choices through education and support so as to improve their health, well-being and academic performance, more support must be provided to schools for greater uptake and implementation of policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-53
    Number of pages13
    JournalImproving Schools
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


    • Environment
    • healthy eating policy
    • qualitative
    • schools


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