Canteen activities

Canteens are the perfect setting to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables to the school community.

School canteens reflect the educational goals of the school and support and complement student learning. Canteens can use events such as March Munch and The Great Vegie Crunch each year as a time to try new recipes and snack ideas.

Ways to encourage students to try new foods:

  • Advertise your weekly specials in the school newsletter or on the website and let parents know what's on offer.
  • Announce specials over the school public address system. This is great for last-minute promotions and students can even read the specials from a script.
  • Use noticeboards to promote your Crunch&Sip specials. Choose areas with the most morning foot traffic.
  • Ask teachers to promote your menu through general classroom discussion.
  • Encourage teachers to act as role models by purchasing and eating healthy products from the canteen!

Linking with Crunch&Sip

Selling vegetable sticks and fruit is just one way school canteens can link with Crunch&Sip. Why not try some of the following ideas to add interest and fun for both the canteen and students:

  • Offer Crunch&Sip Meal Deals, where students receive some chopped vegies or a piece of fruit at Crunch&Sip time, and a main menu item and drink at lunchtime. (Remember that younger children prefer pre-cut fruit to whole pieces. Stop fruit browning by brushing with orange juice and serve in zip-lock bags).
  • Use apple slicers or an apple slinky machine for a fun way to prepare fruit. Kids love them!
  • Have a loyalty card for vegetables or fruit purchased from the canteen, similar to those that coffee shops have. When a student has purchased a serve of vegetables or fruit 10 times, they get the next piece free.
  • Have special fruit and vegetable promotion days - try tasting plates of unusual fruits and vegetables, such as Fuji apples, tamarillos and lychees. You could also have the special fruit or vegetables for sale for Crunch&Sip on that day.
  • Have a fruit-or-vegetable-of-the-week, and feature different recipes for that item each day e.g. pumpkin scones, pumpkin soup and spinach and pumpkin lasagna. Have that fruit or vegetable available to purchase for Crunch&Sip during that week.
  • Run a canteen competition to create a new fruit or vegetable recipe that can be used in the canteen. The student/class that comes up with the winning recipe could win a platter of fruit for their class Crunch&Sip break for a week. Make sure you include the new recipe in the canteen.
  • Set up a credit system where parents can pre-pay for their children's Crunch&Sip fruit. Send reminders when credit is running low.

Check out these fruit & veg promotion ideas!

  • Hold a 'design a salad' or 'healthy veg sandwich filling' competition - including the winning entry on the canteen menu.
  • Have competitions to collect new ideas to add to the menu and to give food items creative names.
  • Make a special Fruit & Veg September menu that includes Meal Deals.
  • Sell only fruit and vegetables at recess every day such as baked bean toasties, fruit salad cups, fruit scones, celery boats and vegetable sticks and vegie based dip (hummus, guacamole, salsa).
  • Seek fruit and vegetable donations from local retailers to provide each class with a large tray of mixed fruit and vegetables.
  • Provide healthy fruit and vegetable recipes for students to take home.
  • Organise fruit & veg displays around the school.
  • Have a 'Cup Day'. Students bring a cup, to be filled with vegetable soup or fruit salad.
  • Canteens can boost sales of fruit and vegetables by getting behind the school's incentive system of rewards, prizes and house points.

Call on your creative side

  • Try some of these tasty recipes in our Healthy Lunchbox section packed full of fruit and veg.
  • Sell any of the following:
    • yoghurt and fruit packs - tubs of reduced-fat yoghurt with fruit such as bananas, apple quarters or fruit kebabs for dipping.
    • Coco-banana bites - dip thick slices of banana in orange juice and roll well in desiccated coconut. Pack in sandwich bags.
    • Frozen fruit - grapes, bananas and orange segments all make healthy iced snacks.
    • Smoothie-sicles - blend fruit, yoghurt and milk and freeze into popsicle trays
    • Toasted jaffles - with fruit or vegetable fillings. Try grated or canned apples or mashed bananas on fruit bread for a sweet option. Try grated vegetables with a sprinkle of cheese on wholemeal bread for a savoury version.
    • Breads with vegetable fillings - Lebanese bread with coleslaw filling, pita pockets with potato salad.
    • Raw vegetables - chopped into bite-sized pieces and served in a sealed plastic bag or a plastic cup with some vegetable dip in the bottom.
    • Corn on the cob - serve as part of a meal deal with coleslaw and skin-free chicken.
  • Remember to add vegetables such as diced capsicum, grated carrot or zucchini, sliced mushrooms and broccoli to pizza toppings.
  • Remember to add frozen mixed vegetables to soup.
  • Offer a snack pack. It might include plain popcorn, nuts, sultanas, dried fruit and seeds.
  • Be inspired by some of these creative vegetable and fruit platter ideas!

How to carve a watermelon basket

  1. Balance the watermelon on its long axis. Choose a watermelon with a flattish bottom to make it stable for display.
  2. Using a marker, draw a line slightly above the midpoint around the circumference of the melon.
  3. Draw two vertical lines to create a basket handle just off centre. It is not recommended actually picking up your basket by the handle. It's not very strong!
  4. Taking a sharp carving knife, cut around the lines, removing 2 quarters from the top of the melon.
  5. Remove the fruit from the bottom half of the melon using a melon baller or knife.
  6. Cut shapes into your edges (optional, but it looks nice).
  7. Refill the watermelon with desired fruit salad mixture, including the watermelon flesh.

OR - try carving a watermelon brain to really get kids talking!

Volunteers: attracting and rewarding them

So you're planning a big vegetable celebration in the canteen. You've managed to get all the teachers on board with classroom promotions. Your new menu is printed and you've worked hard to entice all those fussy eaters to visit the canteen and try something new. There's only one problem, a lack of volunteers!

Believe it or not getting volunteers for a one off event can be easier than securing help every other day of the week, many parents are busy but they can be willing to volunteer a one off day or half day for a specific promotion.

Place an advert in the school newsletter or draft a letter to send home with each family.

Choose a headline that will make people want to read the whole advertisement or letter. For example, 'Join now and find out why so many people already have', 'You're invited to join our canteen community', 'Casual work opportunity, employment guaranteed'. Give a brief description of the promotion you are doing.

Once you have secured your volunteers don't forget to reward them, you may just find they will keep coming back for more! Ideas to recognise and reward volunteers:

  • Get to know your volunteers.
  • Make sure volunteers get a relaxing, decent break should they need it.
  • Give volunteers access to the school's facilities, such as the staff room, on the days they work
  • Offer a 'buddy system' so volunteers can work in pairs which is socially rewarding.
  • Ensure the canteen is a happy, pleasant place to work!
  • Offer volunteers or their children a complimentary healthy lunch.
  • Create a birthday calendar of volunteer birthdays and celebrate their birthday if they work that day.
  • Thank volunteers on a regular basis to make sure they feel appreciated.
  • Acknowledge volunteer assistance in the school newsletter.
  • Place photos of your volunteers up in the canteen with their name so that students get to know them (if they wish)!
  • Ensure the school acknowledges its volunteers at any annual events or presentation evenings.
  • Provide formal acknowledgement of their assistance with a certificate of appreciation at the end of each year.
  • Budget for volunteer thank you gifts.
  • Give personalised letters or small gifts, like flowers or a card to say thank you.
  • Offer professional development or training opportunities, such as attending a canteen expo