Food Police to Patrol Lunchboxes of Kindergarten Kids
(GOLD COAST) FOOD police will be patrolling kindergarten and childcare centres to eliminate unhealthy lunchbox food under strict new guidelines to be adopted by federal health officials.
Childcare representatives from around Australia will converge on Sydney today for an introduction to the national scheme set to be rolled out through childcare centres from July 1.
Some Gold Coast centres already operate under their own strict lunchbox policies and will be largely unaffected by the new national guidelines, already sending unhealthy treats back home .
As part of the Federal Government’s $4.5 million war on obesity, the first uniform national rules of their kind would see childcare workers take on extra responsibilities as nutritional watchdogs.
Leaked draft guidelines suggest staff will be made to discuss the contents of lunch boxes with children at meal times and actively discourage unhealthy sweets and processed savoury snacks.
Parents will also be educated by staff about limiting unhealthy ‘sometimes’ foods and the problems with using food as rewards or punishments.
Staff will be asked to instruct parents to provide items from basic food groups in snack and lunch boxes, and to ‘work with families to support and encourage healthy eating for children’, the guidelines suggest.
Perhaps the toughest measure in the guidelines is banning birthday cakes and desserts from centres and replacing them with birthday badges, hats and fruit.
The guidelines, defined as Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Guidelines for Early Childhood, have been prepared by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and will be linked to the new National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care services that will be adopted as national practice from July 1.
Childcare Queensland president Gwynn Bridge, who is heading to Sydney today for the national briefing, is anxious to learn of the changes.
“We’ve been kept in the dark so far — the Government has been very tight-lipped about the new guidelines,” she said. “We’re just hoping they will not be as onerous as the current system.”
Ms Bridge said Queensland centres already followed Nutrition Australia guidelines and encouraged children to bring healthy food for lunch.
Harbour Town Kindyland is one of 750 Childcare Queensland centres that sends unhealthy treats back home.
Broadbeach Waters Kindergarten co-director Jane Hely said their centre already had a healthy eating policy but it was not strict.