Steps to increasing Green (Everyday) and removing Red (Occasionally) items

Once you know which categories your food and drink items fall into, then creating a healthy food service is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Foods and drinks are categorised as Green (Everyday), Amber (Select Carefully), or Red (Occasionally) based on their nutrition content.

Step 1 Remove all Red (Occasionally) items including confectionery and sugary drinks.

Step 2 Increase the amount of Green (Everyday) items to more than 50% of your menu.

Step 3 Reduce the amount of Amber (Select Carefully) items to less than 50% of your menu

See the suggestions below for simple and easy ways to achieve step 1, 2 and 3.


Step 1: Remove all Red (Occasionally) items

Red (Occasionally) items should not be supplied on the regular school food service menu, and should not be provided more than twice per term. Confectionery and sugary sweetened drink must not be provided.

Try these ideas to remove Red (Occasionally) items from your food service:

  • Remove Red (Occasionally) item/s without replacement
    This works best for items that are less popular, as they’re unlikely to be missed.
  • Replace Red (Occasionally) item/s with a healthier alternative
    Look for Green (Everyday) or Amber (Select Carefully) alternatives to popular Red (Occasionally) items.Take a look at Healthier food and drinks swaps for a range of great ideas. Buyers’ guides are also useful, as they identify commercially prepared Green (Everyday) and Amber (Select Carefully) items.
  • Phase out Red (Occasionally) items
    Phasing out Red (Occasionally) items over a period of time can help you adjust to the changes.
    This can be achieved by restricting how often the item is available, reducing the number of varieties available, or removing larger sizes and offering smaller options.
    E.g. if four flavours of chips are currently sold, remove one flavour per week until crisps are no longer available. Or, only sell chips on Fridays, then stop selling them after four weeks

For information and resources to help you plan changes and phase out unhealthy foods and drinks, see the Action plan template (PDF 106KB) and the Phase in, phase out template  (PDF 242KB).


Step 2: Increase the amount of Green (Everyday) items

Green (Everyday) items are the best choices for schools to provide. They should be always available, as the main choices, and be actively promoted.

Here are some tips to increase Green (Everyday) items in your food service:

  • Use more Green (Everyday) ingredients
    Add extra vegetables to meals such as sandwiches, burgers, hot rolls, pastas and pizzas.
  • Increase Green (Everyday) flavours and varieties of existing items
    Increase your sandwich, jaffle (toasted sandwich), wrap and burger varieties, baked potato toppings, yoghurt and milk flavours, or fruit snack options.
  • Introduce new Green (Everyday) items to increase your healthy range
    Continue to search for new Green (Everyday) items and trial them as a ‘special’ to test their popularity.
    E.g. run a special ‘noodle day’ to test out a range of noodle-based dishes and introduce the most popular option into the regular menu.
  • Swap Amber (Select Carefully) for Green (Everyday)
    Look for Green (Everyday) versions of popular Amber (Select Carefully) items. There are many Green (Everyday) alternatives available.
    E.g. swap regular yoghurt for reduced fat yoghurt, swap regular cheese for reduced fat cheese, or swap crumbed chicken to skinless chicken.
  • Prepare more items yourself
    Foods and drinks made on site are more likely to be Green (Everyday) than commercially prepared items, which generally contain more added fat, salt and sugar. Preparing foods in the kitchen will also allow you to use more Green (Everyday) ingredients and control portion sizes.


Step 3: Reduce the amount of Amber (Select Carefully) items

Amber (Select Carefully) foods and drinks should be limited across the school food service, as they contain some nutrients, but also some unhealthy ingredients.

Try these options to reduce the number of Amber (Select Carefully) options available:

  • Reduce the number of Amber (Select Carefully) flavours and varieties
    E.g. if you sell five flavours of Amber (Select Carefully) chips, removing three flavours from sale will decrease the number of Amber (Select Carefully) items on your menu.
  • Reduce the number of similar Amber (Select Carefully) items
    E.g. if your savoury snack range includes many similar Amber (Select Carefully) items (potato crisps, corn chips, savoury biscuits, ‘vege’ chips and rice sticks), remove some of these options and provide a smaller number of food types. You could start by removing the larger sized items.

Tip: Start reducing the slower selling products, brands and flavours.

For more Green (Everyday) food and drink ideas visit the Food and drink ideas section.

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