Sugary drinks will be removed from ACT Government schools by the end of 2014 and in vending machines in public schools by the end of term one, Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher announced today at the launch of the Fresh Tastes: Healthy Food at School program.
The Chief Minister was joined by Minister for Education and Training Joy Burch for the announcement at the Palmerston District Primary School.
"The ACT Government has a clear plan to reduce the amount of people who are overweight and obese and a key way to achieve that is to reduce the availability of sugary drinks to children," the Chief Minister said.
"The government is taking a firm approach to this plan and will remove sugary drinks from vending machines by the end of this term and then remove them from canteens by the end of this year."
This decision by the ACT Government works towards the commitment in the Towards Zero Growth – Healthy Weight Initiative, launched last year, to develop an ACT Government school food and drink policy with the supporting guidelines that will mandate the implementation of the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines in ACT Government Schools.
Fresh Tastes provides schools with an opportunity for students, parents, community organisations and businesses to work collaboratively with each other to boost the knowledge of children about healthy food and drink options in a school setting.
"This is an exciting program which supports classroom learning about good nutrition and growing, cooking and selling healthy food and drink in ACT schools. Fresh Tastes also provides optional and practical information for parents to help with packing healthy choices into lunch boxes," the Chief Minister said.
Minister for Education and Training, Joy Burch said the phasing out of sugary drinks would be accompanied by increased provision of water refill stations and reusable drink bottles in government schools.
"The rate of overweight or obese children is increasing and through this initiative it will be easier for children to make good food and drink choices when they are at school," Ms Burch said.
"It will also create a learning environment where children can more easily concentrate as we know that children who eat and drink healthy food and drinks, perform better at school.
"Over recent years schools have made progress in this area with a range of garden and food preparation programs available as well as canteens providing more healthy options.Fresh Tastes will take this further and build on a comprehensive approach to combating obesity across the school setting," Ms Burch said.
The Chief Minister concluded by encouraging all ACT schools, not just government schools, to take part in the fresh tastes program and to embrace the move to take sugary drinks out of canteens and vending machines.
"We must not allow the next generation of children to grow up with the same bad eating and drinking habits that some adults are now paying the price for," the Chief Minister said.
All ACT schools, both government and non-government are eligible to join the Fresh Tastes program. Further information can be obtained by email@example.com
Fresh Tastes is a partnership between ACT Health and the ACT Education and Training Directorate. Funding for Fresh Tastes is provided from the Australian Government under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health.
"The ban on sugary drinks will not apply to occasional fetes and fundraisers held twice per term, although the government hopes that by sending a strong message about access to sugary drinks, fetes and fundraisers will also look to provide healthier alternatives," the Chief Minister concluded.
- Statement ends -
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