Schools no longer required to be food police

  • Anne Tolley

Schools will no longer be required to act as food police under changes announced by Education Minister Anne Tolley today.

"As part of the National Government's commitment to reducing compliance for schools, I have decided to remove the clause in National Administration Guideline (5) which states ‘where food and beverages are sold on schools' premises, to make only healthy options available'.

"Feedback from schools I have spoken to suggests that this clause has created confusion for many of them particularly around fundraising and school events. The government considers regulation in this area unnecessary.

"I believe boards of trustees should be able to make their own decisions about appropriate food and drink options. After all, they are parents who should be aware of what ‘good' and ‘bad' foods are. I am confident they will act responsibly.

"When Labour brought in this clause last year, schools up and down the country were outraged. They rightly identified it as an example of the increasing bureaucracy that schools were facing: regulation for regulation's sake. They viewed it as a compliance issue that had nothing to do with teaching and learning.

"National agrees. Furthermore, the majority of students bring food from home and the rule has not stopped students taking unhealthy food to school or stopping off at the pie shop on the way.

"It should be noted that clause (ii) in the National Administration Guideline (5) that requires schools to promote healthy food and drink to students remains in place.

"I am aware of the great work that the majority of schools have already done in this area to ensure their students can make informed decisions about what they eat and drink as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

"This change will help schools to concentrate on core business - providing students with a quality education and learning environment and concentrating on improving education standards."