Health Service Executive
Dublin North East
We establish our eating habits at a young age. What we eat affects our own immediate health, and for those who are still young enough it will make a significant difference to how healthy they are in later life. We know from recent Irish and European studies that our young people eat too much sugar, salt and fats. On the other hand they don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. There is a clear link between what we eat and our risk of becoming over weight/obese and of getting heart disease or diabetes. What we eat when we are young has an impact on how well we are when we are older. If we encourage young people to choose and enjoy different foods, we have given them a good start to life, and hopefully started some good habits, which will be with them into adulthood. Maybe as part of this project they can also influence our eating habits - it’s never too late to start healthy eating. One believes that the success of such a policy depends on the level of co-operation between parents, schools, health professionals and the wider community.
For these reasons the Health Service Executive Dublin North East is delighted to support this healthy eating project with St Columba’s N.S. The project adopts a whole school approach that involves the teachers, pupils, parents and the community, in line with the World Health Organisation’s ‘ Health Promoting School’. Thanks to the school principal, teachers, staff, parents and students for the time and expertise that they put into the development and implementation of this ‘Healthy Eating Policy’. Hearty gratitude to the staff involved in producing this very important document. Emer Smyth A/Head of Health Promotion and Improvement Health Service Executive – DNE Principal’s Acknowledgement As Principal of St Columba’s N.S. it is a great honour and source of joy and pride for me to undertake and encourage this HSE initiative ‘Healthy Eating’ School Policy. On behalf of the school staff I pledge our total commitment to the implementation of this agreed policy within our school. In this regard I look forward to the participation and co-operation of all staff members, pupils and parents and I have no doubt it will greatly benefit the entire school community. From a young age, habits of a lifetime are established and in so far as health in later life is concerned, children are the ideal group to target with health promoting messages.
Accordingly, in St Columba’s N.S. through our implementation of the Social, Personal and Health Education programme, we endeavour to assist our pupils in the formation of positive and responsible attitudes to eating and to appreciate the contribution that good food makes to health. I wish to thank most sincerely all those who have participated and contributed enthusiastically and positively to the development of this Health Eating Policy We proudly regard our school as a ‘health promoting school’ for the benefit of tomorrow’s generation – our children. Letter of Commitment The Role of the Principal is to: Sign ‘Letter of Commitment’ to initiate the process. Set up a Healthy Eating Policy Committee to oversee the development and implementation of the policy. This committee will comprise of teachers, parents, students, school health promotion officer and other stakeholders e.g. caterers, special needs assistant representative etc.In consultation with the community dietitian, the Healthy Eating Policy will be drawn up within an agreed timeframe. Oversee the completion of healthy eating survey and present findings to the committee. Initiate and lead implementation, continuation and sustainability of the policy. Take responsibility for keeping the operational points of the policy on file for future reference and every 2 years review, along with the community dietitian and the schools health promotion officer. Ensure that the draft or final policy is not circulated to other schools as it is based on a school’s own individual needs. The Remit of the Committee is to: Draft Healthy Eating guidelines appropriate to the individual school setting which will form the basis of the Healthy Eating Policy. Forward the draft Healthy Eating guidelines to the Schools Health Promotion Officer for comment and approval in conjunction with the Community Dietitian and Oral Health Education Officer. Circulate the draft Healthy Eating guidelines to staff, parents, board of management, parents’ council and students for appraisal. Amend the final draft, based on comments received from above stakeholders. Ratify final draft and disseminate to the wider school community. Implement the agreed Healthy Eating Policy. Organise launch of the Healthy Eating Policy. (optional) Nominate two members to monitor and evaluate the Healthy Eating Policy on a regular basis. The role of the Community Dietitian is to: Consult and advise committee on policy content where required. Healthy Eating Policy - St Columba’s N.S. Iona Rd, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 What people eat is known to be one of the key factors influencing long term health of school children and staff. The school day provides the opportunity for having at least one of the daily meals within the school. Food is often a feature of school celebrations. The curriculum provides an opportunity to learn and explore about food and healthy lifestyles.
Through these guidelines St Columba’s N.S. aims to help all those involved in our school community, e.g. children, staff and parents in developing positive and responsible attitudes to eating and to appreciate the contribution that good food makes to health. It is very important that one third of a child’s daily nutritional requirements are derived from the foods that are taken to school in the lunch box. A healthy lunchbox includes a helping of a variety of fresh food from the bottom four shelves of the food pyramid e.g. Energy providing foods (wholemeal bread, rolls, wraps, pitta pockets, pasta, rice), Fruit and Vegetables ( fruit ,vegetables and salad), Calcium (milk, cheese, yoghurt), Protein (lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils). Foods from the top shelf of the food pyramid contain a lot of sugar and fat such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, fizzy drinks etc. As an alternative to these foods we encourage the following healthy snacks: fruit, yoghurt, fromage frais, crackers and / or cheese. Throughout the school week it is beneficial to vary the type of protein that goes into sandwiches e.g., cheese/ham/egg/tuna/chicken and turkey etc. Availability of fruit each day in the school will continue. Including all types of salad fruits in lunchtime sandwiches provides an excellent opportunity to avail of one of the five a day recommended fruit and vegetable servings. Children should eat a good breakfast before school, sugary/sugar coated cereals should be avoided. Plain milk and tap/still water are the best drinks. Good hydration is essential for concentration levels. All pupils are encouraged to bring plain milk to school/avail of the EU School Milk Scheme (plain milk only will be offered and all milk cartons will be stored in the refrigerator ). Milk is an excellent source of calcium which is the main mineral present in bones and teeth. For children aged 9-19 years, 5 servings of calcium rich foods are recommended due to the importance of this mineral during this life stage. Water will be made available throughout the day.Pupils are encouraged to bring a bottle of water to school .If children do not drink enough water, they may become dehydrated, thirsty, tired and weak. Sweetened fruit juices , juice drinks, squashes and fizzy drinks should be avoided as they are harmful to teeth. Unsweetened fruit juice can be taken with meals. Encourage the children to eat at each break at school. In order to protect children who have serious food allergies, the whole school community will work together to implement age appropriate, responsible measures to minimise the risk of an allergic reaction. All children in the school will be made aware of the implications of food allergies and how they can assist in preventing allergic reactions. If your child has a serious food allergy, as parents/guardians you must notify the school and provide a doctor’s report stating the implications of the allergy and listing the foods to be avoided. You will be asked to participate with staff in formulating an individual allergy management plan. This plan will identify how best to minimise the risk of an allergic reaction for your child, taking his/her age and class into account. The individual allergy management plan may result in precautions or class specific restrictions, in addition to those of not sharing food or containers, being put into place. They are called class specific restrictions, as they will only apply to the class in which there is a child with a life-threatening allergy. Where class specific restrictions are required, the parents/ guardians of all children in the affected class will be informed by a letter explaining what the restrictions are and the reasons for them. These will be regularly reviewed and updated and any changes will be communicated in writing.
All Children and their parents are reminded that, from a Health and Safety perspective, hot foods purchased from outlets such as Garages, Delicatessens’ etc should be consumed within 90 minutes of purchase . These foods are not encouraged on a regular basis due to their high fat and salt content. All children and young people require a minimum of 1 hour Physical Activity each day. This policy promotes active living. Healthy eating as part of the SPHE curriculum will be covered in all classes. ‘Treats’ and rewards should be of a non edible variety. Evidence based research shows that non edible rewards are more appropriate for children’s well –being. Eating at least one meal per day together as a family has excellent mental health benefits. Teachers and staff will provide positive modelling and support attitudes to encourage healthy eating. The 'Healthy Eating Guidelines' will be reviewed on a 2 yearly basis and the policy will be visibly displayed in the school/website. These ‘Healthy Eating’ Guidelines reflect the needs of the St Columba’s N.S. whole School Community - staff, parents and children.
Produced by The Community Dietitian Team Health Promotion Department Health Service Executive, Dublin North East