Ōtaki College healthy eating and drinking policy


Ōtaki College is a low decile co-ed college with approximately 400 students.

The college started a healthy food policy seven years ago when the 'Fuelled 4 School' policy was introduced by the Labour Party. This policy has since been dropped by the current government.

Ōtaki College canteen is slightly different in that it is run by the school and the emphasis is not on profit. They currently break even generally. The college is a low decile school and hence the reason for not being profit orientated. They decided it was more important to their student’s health, more conducive to learning and have a positive impact on behaviour if they were providing wholesome affordable food to students who may not have had it otherwise.

What they did

Teachers, senior students and the canteen manager collaborated to decide on healthier options in the canteen. The success of this has been due to the following points:

  • They listened to students and conducted surveys to find out what was popular.
  • When unhealthy food was taken away they found it best to replace them with an alternative. For example, deep fried chips were removed but replaced with oven baked wedges.
  • Healthier choices were placed at eye level and in prominent places. For example:
    • chippies were placed behind and below the counter and bowls of fruit were put on the counter
    • water was placed at eye level and in the most prominent place in the chiller, and
    • fizzy's were removed and smaller serve-sized juice packs were put at the bottom of the chiller.
  • Pies used to be offered every day but they now only have two pie days a week (pie consumption has dropped - they only sell approximately 12 pies instead of 40 on the pie days).
  • The menu was changed with the seasons and made to look appetizing:
    • toasted sandwiches/panini/soup in winter, and
    • wraps/salads/sandwiches/sushi in summer.
  • They took advantage of the Fonterra milk plan.
  • The Heart Foundation funded breakfast and lunch activities where students were able to try new interesting foods for free. This encouraged them to later purchase these items.
  • New foods were priced cheaply to encourage students to try new healthier options.
  • Student led activities such as a sushi making day/healthy food posters competition raised education around food and nutrition.
  • A voucher system was offered on healthy foods, e.g. buy four soups and get the fifth free.
  • With New World supermarket supporting the healthy food policy they have reduced the amount of fizzy drinks being consumed. They used to see kids with big bottles of V, etc. They don't see that now.

Important points

Education and including students at every step were what the staff at Ōtaki wanted emphasised.

Written by Vanessa Broughton, Healthy Futures Trust.

Last updated 12 February 2018.