The fight-back against school junk food starts today

Friday 3 April 2009, 1:10PM
By Sue Kedgley

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is launching a nationwide petition and School Food campaign today to try to persuade the Government to reinstate the Nutritional Guidelines requiring schools to sell healthy food in school canteens, which it dropped earlier this year.

The Nutritional Guidelines had been in place since 2007 and in that time many schools had begun selling healthier food in their tuckshops. This had led to healthier schools, better eating habits and anecdotal evidence that behaviour in the classroom had improved due to children avoiding junk food high in sugar.

"I am calling on the Government to put the interests of our children and the health of the nation ahead of ideology or political point scoring," Ms Kedgley said.

Various advocates for kids eating healthily will be at the launch, among them Olympic Rower Rob Hamill, Auckland University’s Dr Robert Scragg, chef Annabel Langbein and Allison Roe.

"About 60% of children buy food from school canteen. If we are to tackle the rising tide of obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental disease amongst children, we must improve the quality of food in school canteens," said Ms Kedgley.

"Green Party school food surveys confirm that schools only began introducing healthy foods into their canteens when they were directed to by the Government in 2007. In the absence of any such direction, many schools will revert to selling a staple diet of junk food again."

"This will undermine the health and well being of New Zealand children, as poor nutrition adversely affects children’s ability to concentrate in class and learn, their educational achievement, as well as contributing to obesity and type 2 diabetes and other health problems," said Ms Kedgley.

"I hope that the petition and a strong community based and political campaign will persuade the government to change its mind on this important issue."