Green Food and Drink Items Fact Sheet

In accordance with the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy 2015, the provision and sale of all food and drinks in ACT public schools must meet the National Healthy School Canteens: Guidelines for healthy foods and drinks supplied in school canteens 2013 (NHSCG). Under the NHSCG, Green foods and drinks are the best choices and form the basis of a healthy diet. They should always be available, displayed in prominent areas and actively promoted and encouraged. 

Best choice 

Green foods and drinks offer a wide range of nutrients and are generally low in saturated fat, added sugar and/or added salt. They help to avoid consumption of excess energy (kilojoules). 

Green Food and Drink Items


Foods and Drinks Best Choice
Drinks  Water (Plain, tap, spring, mineral or sparkling with nothing added). Low or reduced fat milk and soy drinks, plain and flavoured. May contain intense (artificial) sweeteners. Suggested serve size 375ml or less (except coffee-style milk drinks). Coffee style milk drinks (including flavoured) may be sold in secondary school (maximum 375mL serve size).
Bread and alternatives Bagels, burritos, crumpets, English muffins, focaccia, gluten free, lavash, Lebanese, multigrain, pita, rye, tortillas, Turkish, wholegrain, wholemeal, white high fibre, white. Raisin and fruit bread, un-iced fruit buns, glazed hot cross fruit buns. Plain and savoury scones, pikelets and pancakes.
Breakfast cereals Wholegrain, wholewheat flakes, wholegrain puffed cereals, porridge, wholewheat biscuits, low in added sugar, higher in fibre and without confectionery.*
Rice, grains, pasta Plain rice, noodles, pasta, burghul, cracked wheat, polenta, couscous. Plain air-popped popcorn with nothing added.
Yoghurt, custard and cheese (including soy alternatives Low or reduced fat cheese without added confectionery*, low or reduced fat plain or fruit yoghurt and custard without added confectionery.* * May contain artificial sweeteners.
Fruit Fresh, in season is the best choice. Frozen, pureed or canned in natural juice (does not include dried fruit).
Vegetables (including legumes) Fresh, in season is the best choice. Frozen or canned without added flavourings. Chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, baked beans, lentil patties and falafels (grilled or baked).
Lean meat, fish, poultry and alternatives Unprocessed lean beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, fish. Canned tuna, salmon, sardines. Eggs, nuts** (un-salted, un-roasted, dry roasted).

* Confectionery includes; boiled lollies, carob, chocolate (including choc chips and chocolate-coating), chocolate spreads eg. Nutella. 

** Check your school policy regarding the use of nuts and products containing nuts. 

Greening Food and Drink Items 

Foods and drinks categorised as Green and Amber can be made available at school. Think of these foods as sitting on a spectrum. The aim is for all foods and drinks available at schools to be as close to the Green end of the spectrum as possible. 

The Greening Table from the NHSCG Quick Reference Guide 


Making food in the canteen 'from scratch' Make sure most of the ingredients come from the list of foods categorised as Green.
Criteria Compare products that meet the criteria. Choose the one with the least amount of saturated fat, sodium and energy, and the greatest amount of fibre.
Promotion  Foods categorised as GREEN should be the focus of meal deals. Foods that are promoted and are presented in an attractive way, at the correct temperature, are more likely to be purchased and eaten.
Serve size Keep the serve size small, especially those foods categorised as Amber
Sandwiches, rolls, wraps, burgers Choose wholegrain, wholemeal or multigrain bread. Add salad vegetables to sandwiches (for example: tomato, lettuce, shredded carrot). Each additional vegetable pushes the sandwich closer towards the 'GREEN' end of the specturm. Choose low or reduced-fat cheese.
Cheese Choose low or reduced-fat cheese in the canteen. Low or reduced-fat cheese may still be high in saturated fat and/or salt. Use sparingly.
Pasta Fresh tomato or vegetable-based sauces are the best choice with plenty of added vegetables. Choose low or fat-reduced cheese.
Pizza Use pita bread as base and top with lean meat and plenty of vegetables. Choose low or fat-reduced cheese.
Muffins Reduce the amount of sugar used. Replace with pureed apple, mashed banana or berries. Replace half the flour with wholemeal.
Milk drinks Choose low or reduced-fat milk when making up milkshakes and smoothies. Add low or reduced-fat yoghurt and/or fruit.
Soups Choose low or reduced-fat stock. Flavour with herbs and spices instead of salt. Add plenty of vegetables and serve with plain wholemeal or wholegrain bread.
Flour Use herbs and spices instead of salt.
Sauces, mayonnaises Choose products that are low or reduced-fat, low or reduced-salt or 'no added salt', and are used sparingly.
Breakfast cereal Serve with low or reduced-fat milk.


National Healthy School Canteens: Guidelines for health foods and drinks supplied in school canteens, updated 2013. 

The NHSCG has detailed information to distinguish between Amber and Red items and Amber and Green items. Refer to the NHSCG resources at: Content/phd-nutrition-canteens External Link

A User Guide, specifically for the ACT, will provide a step by step guide to understand and apply the NHSCG. This resource is being developed by ACT Health in consultation with school users and will be available in term 2, 2015. For updated information go to External Link

Related Factsheets

Green Food and Drink Items factsheet pdf print version  PDF File (1mb)