A voice for healthier kids
Our vision is healthy tuckshops, healthy schools, healthy children. We work hard to inspire and enable school communities, helping children make healthy food and drink choices for life.
QAST is an independent voice for school tuckshops, and we are committed to sharing what we do ‘behind the scenes’ to help build capacity and confidence in Queensland school tuckshops.
Healthy Food in Queensland Schools Alliance
Through the Healthy Food in Queensland Schools Alliance (the Alliance) QAST has connected with the Heart Foundation, Nutrition Australia Queensland, P&Cs Qld, Catholic School Parents Queensland, Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network, Queensland Association of State School Principals, and Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association.
We know that healthy eating helps children and young people stay alert, concentrate, and learn better in the classroom. Healthy foods and drinks served in tuckshops play an important part in this.
The Smart Choices – Healthy food and drink supply Strategy for Queensland Schools (Smart Choices) is a whole of school healthy food supply policy which is mandatory in Queensland state schools, and strongly encouraged in non-state schools. Smart Choices in all schools ensures more healthy food and drinks are offered to Queensland children regardless of where they live and which school they attend.
The Alliance wants to see a more comprehensive and joint effort to help schools implement Smart Choices. This includes better leadership for implementation, more communication to parents about healthy food and drinks in schools, and more support for organisations like QAST to increase capacity and confidence in school tuckshops and convenors who are the champions for Smart Choices within schools.
What we’re doing behind the scenes
In October 2023, we visited Parliament House for a Tuckshop Pop-Up to talk all things tuckshops with Queensland’s elected Members of Parliament.
Together with the Management Committee, and tuckshop convenors, staff and volunteers from around south east Queensland, we talked about the crucial role tuckshops play in schools, and how amazingly hard working you all are. We heard from Minister for Education, Grace Grace MP who sung the praises of everyone who works hard, day in, day out, to feed Queensland kids at school. This was made possible thanks to Joe Kelly MP for sponsoring the event.
In August 2023, we assisted with finalising the FOCIS Strategic Plan, with a strong focus on advocacy, and recruitment of Advocacy and Communications Officer. In the same month we also delivered a Tuckshop Masterclass at the School Business Managers Association of Queensland State Conference.
In July 2023, we finalised a project for Health and Wellbeing Queensland reviewing evidence for healthy food and drink supply policy implementation in schools, and summary of implementation models across all jurisdictions in Australia.
In May 2023 we partnered with Health and Wellbeing Queensland to deliver the inaugural A Better Choice Conference and Expo. This event increased the profile of school tuckshops in the contribution to preventive health efforts in Queensland. In the same month, we also shared the Connections through Cooking project story at the Metro South Health Multicultural Health Symposium.
In March 2023 we were guest speakers at the National Food Classification Unification workshop which brought together government representatives from all jurisdictions.
In May 2022 we wrote a letter to all Queensland school principals about the benefits of implementing Smart Choices.
In May 2022 we backed the Parents’ Voice campaign to protect Australian children from unhealthy food marketing by sending a letter to all Federal MPs in Queensland.
In August 2022 representatives from QAST were pleased to meet with Department of Education Director-General Michael De’Ath to discuss how we can work together to support tuckshops in serving healthy food and drinks to Queensland children.
It was fantastic to hear the Director-General say that he will not be a barrier to healthy choices for Queensland children.
We discussed how to boost Smart Choices engagement through an update of the policy, the upcoming funding for refurbishment of school tuckshops, and industrial relations issues for convenors.
We also talked about how to support suppliers to promote healthier products, including an exciting partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland and the Department of Health to deliver a healthy food and drink expo in March 2023.
QAST is an active member of the Federation of Canteens in Schools (FOCIS). FOCIS supports, promotes, facilitates and empowers school communities, state and territory Associations and Networks, food industry and government to enable stakeholders to make decisions that result in healthy food services by providing tools, resources and information.
Together with representatives from Healthy Eating Advisory Service (Victoria), Western Australian School Canteen Association, School Food Matters (Tasmania), ACT Nutrition Support Service and Healthy Kids Association (NSW), the National School Canteen Network meets biannually to share and collaborate for collective impact in the healthy food in schools space.