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Melton City Council

Case study reproduced with permisison from City of Melton. 
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Healthy sports and recreation centre cafés

Sports and recreation settings offer an opportunity to have a positive impact on community health, not only through the chance to be physically active but also through the food and drinks available and promoted to customers.

Melton City Council committed to making a positive change by adopting the Victorian Government Healthy Choices Guidelines for sport and recreation centres.

As part of this, they trialled healthier drinks for 3 months by aiming for less than 20% of their fridges with RED drinks (like sports drinks and soft drinks) and at least 50% GREEN drinks (like water and small milks). They also switched from offering RED milkshakes to GREEN smoothies.

We conducted an evaluation to see what the effect of making these changes was for the healthiness of customer purchases, drinks revenue (dollar sales) and retailer and consumer satisfaction with changes.


What did we do?

  • We tracked changes in the display of RED, AMBER and GREEN drinks over trial period.
  • We monitored changes in volume of drinks sold and dollar (revenue) sales before and after the trial, taking account of seasonal trends.
  • We interviewed council and café staff before and after the trial to find out about the benefits and challenges of healthy food and beverage changes in community settings, and how opinions changed during the trial.


What did we find?

  • RED drinks dropped from 74% to 37% of available drinks
  • 76% decrease in sales of cold RED drink sales
  • Cold GREEN and AMBER drink sales nearly tripled
  • 5800L less RED drinks sold each year
  • No overall change in cold drinks revenue


Council and café staff interviews

Stakeholders were generally in support of improving the healthiness of centre food and drink offerings.

"It shows that council are doing what we can to encourage a healthier community…one of our key objectives is getting people more active…But you know, we're still selling crap food, so we're hypocritical."
(Stakeholder 6, pre-implementation)

"It came in from a holistic global view of healthy food choice across council and promoting healthy food choices, 100% support that."
(Stakeholder 2, pre-implementation)

The sites used smoothie tastings to get staff on board:

"We did some demonstrations and trials on how to make the smoothies…So rather than saying, “This is how it is going to be, this is how you’re going to do it,” we introduced them to the process."

Stakeholder 6, post-implementation)

Stakeholders considered the trial a success while acknowledging the process was ongoing

"[It] hasn’t impacted the revenue stream in a negative way."
(Stakeholder 5, post-implementation)

"We’ve still got a little bit transition with the local school kids and they want certain things and they’re missing the milkshakes, but other than that, generally positive feedback from staff and customers."
(Stakeholder 2, post-implementation)


What did we learn?

  1. Start with the easy wins
  2. Engage customers through social media
  3. Use support of dietitians or Healthy Eating Advisory Service to help find alternatives and with recipe changes
  4. Appoint a champion to be responsible for changes
  5. Monitor and adapt as you go
  6. Build on successes over time


Feeling inspired? Start here:

For more information on how to make a healthy change in your organisation contact the Healthy Eating Advisory Service.


This program was supported by the Victorian Government, Melton City Council, Wyndham City Council and Deakin University (CRICOS Provider Code: 00113B).

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