Community Consultation - Policy for the Supply of Food and Drink at Fig Tree Pocket State School
Dear Parents and Carers
We wish to thank all those who provided feedback on the draft policy for the supply of food and drink at FTPSS. Nineteen responses were received from our community with a range of questions and comments.
We have reflected upon these questions and comments and have made some changes to the draft policy in response. The revised policy is available here.
Below is a summary of frequently asked questions and comments and what we consider to be answers and responses. We provide this to assist further consideration of the policy by our community ahead of the next P&C meeting on 28 July 2020 at which a motion to approve the policy will be proposed.
Answers and Responses to Frequently Asked Questions and Comments
Why do we need a policy when there is no actual problem with the status quo?
Education Queensland requires all schools to implement Smart Choices. Our school has decided to formally develop a policy for the supply of food and drink at FTPSS, even though many past practices and events have been operating either in conformance with Smart Choices requirements or broadly consistent with the intent of Smart Choices. The variety of feedback received in this consultation suggests that we should provide clarity around Smart Choices and provide a framework for our community to guide and decide policy implementation and changes over time.
This Policy appears a bare minimum – shouldn’t our school be striving for excellence?
The policy adopts the mandatory requirements of Smart Choices as a starting point. It then outlines those specific events which are not regulated by Smart Choices and those matters where the community may decide to adopt a higher standard than what Smart Choices presently requires as a minimum. We believe that our community should make its own decisions about what excellence means and whether there should be any further change beyond the mandatory Smart Choices requirements. We also believe that any such changes that may be decided by the community should be applicable to the whole school so a situation does not develop where different classes have different rules. The policy seeks to be clear about this and provide the framework for the community to be the decision maker through the P&C decision making processes that already exist.
This policy has loopholes enabling certain events not be counted towards the maximum 2 red days per term, eg camps and graduations. All school events should be counted.
The policy reflects current Smart Choices requirements. Information about the Smart Choices requirements and tools that may be used to help understand and implement Smart Choices are available at: https://education.qld.gov.au/students/student-health-safety-wellbeing/student-health/smart-choices/resources. We do not consider that the policy has loopholes or somehow undermines the mandatory Smart Choices requirements.
Will teachers be supported with implementing the policy?
Yes. Teachers were consulted during the initial drafting of the policy and they provided useful and valuable feedback about workability and areas where assistance and support would be required. The policy purposely seeks to ensure that decisions about implementation or changes are made through community consultation and applicable to the whole of school so that there is consistency of application and practice across all classes.
By creating categories of foods and suggesting that there are good and bad, you are using the sort of language that can contribute to food disorders. Shouldn’t this be changed?
We acknowledge that what we say and do around food and food choices can have broader or otherwise unintended implications. We have been careful to adopt the same categories as required by Smart Choices. These categories are based upon Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) and The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. We consider that it will be important to provide access to information and further education about Smart Choices as a way to help explain the food categories and seek to avoid the stigmatisation of food.
It is a parent’s responsibility to choose the food that their child eats for lunch. Parents should be given more choice, not less, which is what this policy seems to do. Also, tuckshop should be able to be used as a treat if a parents wishes to. Please include menu items that children can enjoy.
The policy is applicable to school supplied food, i.e. tuckshop and school or P&C organised events. It does not apply to food that parents might send from home and so does not seek to limit parent choice in that respect. The tuckshop is operated by the P&C (through the tradeshops committee) consistent with the requirements of P&Cs Qld for operating tuckshops and the minimum requirements of Smart Choices.
Smart Choices provides some limitations around certain food categories and this removes some food and drink choices that may have historically been available. The P&C seeks to meet community expectations and wishes, in line with Smart Choices minimum requirements. It seeks to provide a menu that that has both tasty and nutritious offerings that children enjoy. Some foods that Smart Choices does not permit may be replaced by other similar foods. An example is garlic bread, originally it was store bought and classed as a RED item due to its respective ingredients. Alternatively, the new homemade garlic bread, using fresh garlic, herbs and olive oil based spread, will return to the current menu and is a green option.
P&C meetings and correspondence provides an opportunity to provide feedback to the P&C about the tuckshop menu and the type and extent of menu choices available. The policy seeks to preserve the important role of the P&C as a forum to make decisions about tuckshop operation and food choices and does not seek to take that choice away beyond the Smart Choices minimum requirements.
How will you co-ordinate all the events and activities so there is agreement about what events fall into what category?
The P&C and the School already work together to produce and publish to the community an annual events calendar so that all events are coordinated, especially in terms of what food and drink may be offered as part of an event. This calendar is tabled and discussed at P&C meetings. It will also be made available on our school community webpage. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the calendar will be confirmed as soon as possible.
This policy feels like it is shaming parents who don’t agree or who don’t always make the healthiest food choice or who wish to send a cake for a birthday celebration. Some people choose food for other reasons which are still well-being related (eg, help manage behaviour or specific sensory needs). Also there are cultural practices associated with food. If the policy is a rigid rule then we are not respecting the diversity of our community and special needs.
We appreciate the sensitivities around food and drink and that there are diverse beliefs, practices, needs and expectations regarding food and drink. While we must adhere to Smart Choices minimum requirements when offering food and drink at school and school associated events, we wish to ensure the policy enables and facilitates inclusivity when implemented in practice. We have purposely designed the policy to require changes beyond the minimum standards to be made by community consultation and decision, and to otherwise preserve the role of the P&C in this regard. We think that this is the best way to ensure Smart Choices compliance in a way that best accommodates the needs and expectations of our community, reflecting the diversity within it.
As for birthday celebrations at school, Smart Choices does not apply to food provided for birthday celebrations. Beyond restricting foods which may contain nuts or other allergens, the policy does not seek to limit the type of celebratory food which the parents consider appropriate. Parents tend to make common sense decisions typical of an appropriate and reasonable child birthday celebration. As has traditionally been the case, parents are expected to coordinate with teachers to ensure that the celebration can be managed. There are parents who do wish to restrict what their child eats at school and teachers are required to help manage that within a classroom birthday celebration context. Presently the policy reflects and seeks to balance these practices. While some feedback expressed a desire for red category foods to no longer be permitted, we consider that any change to limit present practices (beyond Smart Choices minimum requirements and specific allergy management practices) should only be made by community decision led by the P&C and on a whole of school application basis to ensure that there is no confusion across classes.
We thank our community for their contributions and we look forward to finalising this important initiative at the next P&C meeting on 28 July 2020.
Jason Boyd Barry Klopper Dominic O’Brien
Principal P&C President Chair, School Council