Promotional ideas to boost canteen sales


A clean and friendly looking canteen, with a delicious display of GREEN (Everyday) items can attract students and promote sales of healthy foods and drinks.

Small blackboard with pictures of fruit drawn in chalk

Here are some promotional tips you can use to attract students to your canteen.

Where to start?

  • Stand outside your canteen and have a look. What do students see first?
  • Do the foods and drinks look appealing?
  • Can you read the menu, meal deals and specials board clearly?
  • Is there anything you would change?
  • Do the healthier or less healthy items stand out most?

The canteen

Canteen name and logo

A playful and ‘cool’ name gives your canteen an identity and can be used in a range of canteen promotions such as naming canteen items, meal deals and branding lunch bags.

  • Some fun canteen names include the Snack Shack, Fresh Bites, Tucker Bar or Pit Stop.
  • A picture or logo will also stand out, helping students to recognise the canteen.
  • Try running a student competition to develop the canteen name and logo.

Canteen environment

  • Keep your food service area, food display areas and equipment clean and tidy. This will reassure students and their parents that the canteen items are fresh and safe to eat.
  • Create a welcoming environment by keeping the area and furniture around the canteen clean, tidy and inviting.
  • Ask classes or student groups to help decorate the canteen area with art works, posters and signs.
  • Show key messages, meal deals and specials on the canteen walls.
  • Make use of empty space and highlight certain items with food display stands.
  • Make sure canteen staff have had food handling training.

The menu

Menu layout

An attractive and easy to read menu can really boost sales! Try these simple ideas:

  • Group similar menu items in sections (e.g. mains, snacks, hot foods, drinks).
  • Use a clear font, and keep it the same font size throughout the menu.
  • Highlight healthy GREEN (Everyday) choices by:
    • Placing healthy items at the top of the menu
    • Writing names of healthy items in bold or CAPITALS on the menu
    • Presenting appealing pictures of healthy items.

Naming menu items

Give GREEN (Everyday) foods and drinks fun and catchy names to make them appeal to students. See the full list of fun and descriptive words at the end of this resource!

  • Use words to describe how the items taste, look or are served. For example ‘Mouth-watering pizza melts’ or ‘Juicy corn cobs drizzled with sweet chilli sauce’.
  • Try linking names with popular themes, movies, bands, sports, or special events. For example ‘One Direction meal deal’, or ‘Footballer’s frittata’.
  • Run competitions for students to name items – they know what they like!

Food & drinks

Appearance of foods

Look at the items on display and ask yourself if you would consider buying them yourself?

Here are some tips to improve the appearance of your canteen items.

  • Keep your food service area, food display areas and equipment clean and tidy.
  • Display the name, price and sometimes the ingredients of your healthy foods and drinks. After all, would you buy something if you didn’t know what it was, or how much it cost?
  • Make sure your fruit and vegetables are fresh, crisp and vibrant in colour.
  • Display sandwiches, wraps and rolls with their fillings facing forward, so students can see what they are buying.
  • Keep your serve sizes consistent for similar items.

Food and drink displays

Catch students’ attention by highlighting healthier items first.

  • Position healthier choices up the front, at eye level and within easy reach for students.
  • Place only healthy items at the cash register to encourage healthy last minute choices.
  • Use colourful and fun packaging to make healthier items look appetising!
  • Ensure you have good lighting to highlight foods and drinks on display.
  • Use display shelves and props to help present your food in an attractive way. For example, line a bowl with a clean and colourful tea towel to give baked items a ‘home made’ feel, or a colourful display stand for GREEN (Everyday) snacks.

Taste testing and suggestions

A suggestion box by the counter is a great way for students to give feedback about canteen items and identify new foods or drinks they would like to see on the menu.

When thinking about adding new items to the menu, trial their popularity and gather feedback with free student taste testing.

Around the school

Fun ideas to promote your canteen

Grab the students’ attention and encourage visits to the canteen by promoting your foods and drinks in fun ways. Here are some suggestions for you.

Posters and flyers

  • Run student competitions (with small prizes) to design posters for the canteen.

Buy or download some existing posters to promote healthy eating, such as:

Notice boards

These can be the cheapest and most effective marketing tools for the canteen. Promote specials, new healthy options, theme days or fun food facts.

A cork pinboard with lots of different coloured paper speech bubbles pinned to it

School newsletter and website

Use the school’s existing communication tools to inform the school community about healthy canteen options, new menu items, price changes and theme days.

Schools can also include nutrition articles to increase parents’ understanding about healthy eating for school-aged children.

Student announcements/notices

Promote your current specials, new items or theme days at school assemblies or over the PA system.

Theme days

Theme days are a great way to trial new healthy items and expose students to new foods.

  • Plan theme days well in advance, either at the start of the year or school term.
  • Plan for a successful theme day by having extra helping hands available to prepare food and decorate the canteen. Make sure you order enough food!
  • Advertise your theme day in advance so everyone knows about it and is ready to buy on the day.

Be a good role model

Encourage all canteen and school staff to be good role models by making healthy food choices themselves, encouraging healthy foods and drinks in the classrooms and at the point of sale in the canteen.

Get creative

Descriptive words

refreshingscrumptiousserved withmini
juicyyummuydollopmelted cheese
sweetdelicioisbunchdrizzled with dressing
healthytastyhandfulcovered in
grilledhotmixedsmothered in, sliced (e.g. sliced avocado)
toastedwarmrange ofstuffed
homemadechilledvarietysprinkled with
technicolourcoldsupremosprinkle of
supermunchydeluxelightly toasted
choicecrunchypumped up

Breakfast menu

  • Hot creamy porridge with juicy dried apricots
  • Warm golden toast with berry jam
  • Scrumptious crumpets covered in delicious ricotta and strawberries


  • Handful of juicy sultanas
  • Chilled sliced apple
  • Bunch of juicy grapes
  • Bag of plump fresh strawberries
  • Sweet pineapple slices
  • Crunchy carrot sticks
  • Sweet and juicy corn on the cob
  • Celery sticks with crunchy peanut butter
  • Seasonal, fresh fruit salad with a dollop of yoghurt
  • A range of homemade muffins
  • Warm pita bread with grilled cheese

Lunch menu

  • Soft grainy roll with fresh ham, tasty cheese and shredded lettuce
  • Garden vegetable lasagne served with fresh side salad
  • Hot and tasty vegetable filo
  • Technicolour fried rice (with lots of vegies!)
  • Creamy hot pumpkin soup


  • Refreshing banana and strawberry smoothie with a sprinkle of cinamon
  • Tropical sunrise smoothie
  • Bottle of chilled water

For more information please phone 1300 22 52 88 or email

Except where otherwise indicated, the images in this document show models and illustrative settings only, and do not necessarily depict actual services, facilities or recipients of services. This document may contain images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this document, ‘Aboriginal’ refers to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Koori/Koorie’ is retained when part of the title of a report, program or quotation. Copyright © State of Victoria 2016

Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.

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