The Mossman State School Tuckshop (Munchbox Mayi) is at the heart of their healthy school food environment, and at the heart of Munchbox Mayi is Sally – the school Tuckshop convenor.
When Mossman joined Healthy Eats, Sally was excited to work with the team and the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST) to review the menu and create new delicious and nutritious meal options for her school.
“I was a little hesitant about the new menu at first, and wondered how the kids would react, but it has been great, and the new items have been really popular!” Sally said.
Sally was able to combine her previous restaurant experience and inspiration from QAST, to create a fresh and healthy menu that has been a hit with both students and staff.
“We now make most of our menu items here in the Tuckshop, using local ingredients. We even use produce from our school garden when it is available,” Sally said.
Some of the most popular new menu items include the home-made Bolognese, chicken and vegetable curry, pizzas (Sally makes the dough fresh each day), salad bento boxes and sushi.
“We used to have around an 80/20 split in the Tuckshop – 80% red/amber foods and 20% green foods, but we have been able to really improve this and it’s now more like 50/50,” Sally said.
The students themselves have even been keen to get involved in the new look Tuckshop too, and are regularly volunteering to help prepare the salad vegetables and make banana muffins before school each morning, ready for the day.
“We have seen a really positive change in our student’s food choices since we started the Healthy Eats program, which has been great. I have never made so many slinky apples!
“But one of the most surprising things we’ve noticed has been the importance of modelling. It’s been a big factor in changing their purchasing habits. When students see their friends and teachers taking up the healthy choices and getting involved, they tend to try those items as well and generally find they really enjoy them,” Sally said.
Mossman has truly embraced the community concept of the Healthy Eats program and has begun promoting its healthy menu at school events such as the annual book fair.
Parents and students attending the book fair are invited to a ‘Tuckshop Tasting’ throughout the event, where they can try the new Tuckshop menu items free of charge and become familiar with what is available before ordering.
“By showing them what’s available and letting them ‘try before they buy’, we hope that students will choose the healthier options and parents will encourage these choices, especially if they are familiar with them too,” Sally said.
While changing the menu has had a big impact on the choices students are making, Sally said it was not the only thing that has made a difference to students purchasing habits. Simply changing the way menu items are presented within the Tuckshop can make a difference.
“I now make sure all the healthy options are prominently displayed, and that the fruit is placed on the counter instead of being in the fridge. Even these small changes can make a difference to what students choose to buy.”
When asked if she had any advice for other Tuckshops making changes as part of the Healthy Eats program, Sally said they should embrace it.
“There is no harm in making some changes, even if they are only small.
“The Healthy Eats team and QAST have been great resources. There are lots of recipes and inspiration on the QAST website. It is also really helpful to speak with other Tuckshop convenors and find out what they are doing and share ideas – you definitely don’t have to do this alone,” Sally said.