Healthy Eating Policy
This Policy has been developed to help us create an environment that is conducive to promoting healthy eating choices in our school. This forms part of our Wellbeing Promotion process. The existing policy was reviewed in April and May 2016 and again in September 2020 following collaboration with parents, pupils and staff. Research indicates a strong link between diet and performance. A healthy diet promotes concentration, protects teeth, lessens hyperactivity and reduces health risks such as obesity and other health related issues.
As part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (S.P.H.E) programme we encourage the children to make healthy food choices.
As a Primary school we are encouraged by the Department of Education and Skills as well as the Department of Health to promote healthy eating amongst our pupils. We are asked to contribute to the realisation of a healthy active population and heightening the awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Recent research has highlighted disturbing trends including an increase in childhood obesity and diabetes. Therefore our policy and government guidelines are both timely and critical for the health and development of children. Healthy food choices are central to physical wellbeing. As a school we recognise the important role wellbeing plays in our pupils’ lives and actively promote wellbeing.
The aim of this policy is to:
⮚ To take a whole school approach to healthy eating in school, in relation to: the Culture and Environment, Curriculum (Teaching and Learning), Policy and Planning, Relationships and Partnerships
⮚ To promote healthy eating across school life, consistent with national healthy eating guidelines and school curriculum
⮚ To ensure that food provision in school reflects the ethical and medical requirements of staff and pupils, eg. Religious, ethnic, vegetarian, medical and allergic needs.
⮚ To make the provision and consumption of food an enjoyable and safe experience.
Culture and Environment
● Packed Lunches should contain a healthy balance in child friendly portions
● Drinking water is available in all classrooms from the classroom tap
● Pupils can keep their water bottle on the table during the day. However, if the bottle becomes a distraction pupils will be asked to place it in their school bag.
● Pupils eat lunch at their desk while chatting socially developing oral language skills, listening to music, listening to story or watching a video
● Pupils wash their hands before eating lunch
● Pupils eat for 10 minutes before small break and 10 minutes for lunch – this time is increased in the junior classes when necessary
● Pupils are supervised by a teacher during eating time
● The use of non food rewards is encouraged
● Less focus on food at school events
● Culture of healthy eating encouraged and positive modelling by adults in school
Curriculum (Teaching and Learning)
● Through SPHE & Science pupils are taught about healthy eating and the importance of making healthy food choices.
● SPHE – Taking Care of My Body, Food and Nutrition
● Parents will be directed towards the HSE website which offers information on Healthy lunchboxes. When available new pupils to the school will receive the Healthy Lunchboxes leaflet from the HSE.
Policy and Planning
● Healthy Lunches will be taught in all classes in September to ensure all pupils understand what a healthy lunchbox contains and the importance of eating a healthy lunch in school.
● Individual classes will teach the SPHE strand unit, Taking Care of My Body.
● Our external food supplier will adhere to our healthy food guidelines (when applicable)
● Teachers, if they wish, can give pupils one small bag of jellies, one fun size bar or similar small treat on the half day before Christmas Holidays and the half day before the Summer Holidays.
Relationships and Partnerships
● Parents’ Association will not give sweets as treats except in exceptional circumstances.
● Communication – our policy is available to view on our school website www.rathgaroguens.com . It is also available in hard copy from the school office on request.
● Our sporting partners will not give sweets as treats except in exceptional circumstances
● We use the Food Dudes, Taste Buds and Moo Crew initiatives
● We welcome speakers from the HSE and other health promoting bodies when they are available to visit schools and talk with pupils and/or teachers. These include talks about dental health, healthy eating, wellbeing etc
● Staff will attend professional training in the area of Healthy Eating when available
● There will be a strong focus on non-food rewards
● Food rewards will only be used in rare and exceptional circumstances as a whole school celebration
What is a Healthy Lunch
A healthy lunch is one packed full of goodness. Children need a wide variety of foods to help them grow, learn and play. A healthy lunchbox is an important part of the school day. The food pyramid is a useful tool to help us ensure a healthy, balanced lunchbox. The following are the suggested servings for lunch as based on the food pyramid:
TOP SHELF Sparingly
MEAT, FISH & ALTERNATIVES 1 serving
MILK, CHEESE YOGURT 1 serving
FRUIT & VEGETABLES 1 or more serving
BREAD, CEREALS & POTATOES 2 or more servings
Snacks for small break:
▪ Pots of yogurt – plain or fruit
▪ Plain rice cakes
▪ Breadsticks and crackers with hummus
▪ Fruit – apples, oranges, banana, kiwi, berries, grapes, melon, dried fruits, pineapple, grapefruit etc
▪ Chopped vegetables – carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber etc
Examples of healthy lunches – ideas for each of the food groups
Sliced bread, wraps, rolls, pitta breads, tortillas, bagels, crackers, pasta, spaghetti, rice, rice cakes,
bread sticks, oat cakes, cous cous,
▪ Fruit and vegetable:
Vegetables cooked or raw e.g. cucumber, carrots, celery, peppers, hummus, broccoli
Salad vegetables e.g. lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sweet corn, spinach, salad leaves, coleslaw
▪ Milk, cheese, yogurt:
Pots of yogurt – natural or fruit, cheese – slices, grated or cubed
▪ Meat, fish and alternatives:
Sliced meats – ham, turkey, chicken, salami, tuna, salmon, egg,
▪ All nuts and nut containing products (due to students with serious allergies)
▪ Chocolate (in any form including chocolate spreads)
▪ Cereal bars – can have a very high sugar content
▪ Sweets – including winders
▪ Chewing gum
▪ Fizzy drinks
▪ Tubes of yogurt
Children will be asked to take foods from the ‘banned list’ home if they bring them to school.
The three key messages for a healthy diet
• Limit high fat, sugar and salt foods from the top shelf of the Pyramid to no more than once or twice a week
• Eat more fruit and vegetables, at least 5 to 7 servings a day
• Use the Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes and remember that portion size matters
Information to note:
Children are asked not to swop lunches.
We are trying to reduce the amount of waste in the school as we are a ‘Green School’ so we ask parents to please try and reduce the amount of packaging in your child’s lunch box or use re-usable packaging.
Pupils will take home all of their lunch waste.
There is a total ban on nuts and nut products in the school due to serious allergies of some of our pupils. We ask you to be vigilant in the following:
● Avoid any type of nuts in school lunches
● Avoid peanut butter and spreads such as Nutella
● Nut based breads or any food containing nuts
Parents/guardians of any child with a medical condition which requires a special diet should ensure they inform the school in writing.
This list was compiled in collaboration with the Student Council.
This list is not exhaustive.
● Certificate or sticker acknowledging a ‘great job’
● Photo recognition board in a prominent place in the school
● Recognise achievement on the noticeboard, website or through school announcements.
● Phone call or note to parents
● Choose a class activity.
● Teach the class.
● Helping a teacher/member of staff.
● Make deliveries to the office.
● Extra playtime.
● Designing a class notice board.
● Homework pass.
● Read school announcements.
● Show and tell time.
● Sitting on special chair or beanbag.
● Golden time.
● Choose an active break
● A book read aloud to the class. .
● Playing a game or doing puzzles together.
● Dancing or physical activity time.
● Eating lunch or class time outdoors.
● Frisbees, Skipping ropes, Stickers, Marbles, Step counters, Pencils, Stencils, Stampers, Colouring books
Promotion of physical activity:
In June 2015 we were awarded our First Active Schools Flag, this was renewed in 2018 when we were awarded our second Active School Flag.
Each year we now participate in Active Schools week and focus strongly on pupil wellbeing all year.
We were awarded Health Promoting School status in 2018 and continue to embed these healthy school practises every year.
The school evaluates the success of the policy through;
a) Feedback from all staff
b) Feedback from parents and children
c) Evidence of positive and healthy attitudes towards food
Ratification and Review
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management on the 21st June 2016 and will be implemented from September 2016. This policy was reviewed November 2020 by staff and pupils. It was ratified by the Board of Management on 17.11.2020.