Healthy Eating Policy

 Welcome to the Healthy Eating Policy of Shanbally N.S. It has been developed by the school’s Health Promotion Committee in consultation with parents, students and teachers of Shanbally N.S., and with assistance from the HSE South Health Promoting Schools Co-ordinator.

Rationale and Aims

In conjunction with the curriculum subjects SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education) and Science, we aim to promote nutrition awareness and positively influence healthy food and drink choices within the school community.

Ideally we hope:

  • To heighten an awareness of the importance of a balanced diet.
  • To encourage pupils to make wise choices about food and nutrition.
  • To raise levels of concentration within class by way of consumption of healthy foods and drinks.
  • To enable the children to develop a healthy eating habit for life.

Feedback and recommendations from the parent’s questionnaire, findings from lunch box survey, suggestions from staff and pupils and input from the ‘Food and Nutrition for Primary Schools’ (Dept. of Health and Children) were incorporated into the contents of this policy.

The Food Pyramid



food pyramid image


  • The Food Pyramid is the key tool to communicate healthy eating messages.
  • It is very important for children’s energy and concentration levels that they eat a healthy breakfast before coming to school.
  • A healthy lunchbox includes a piece of food from each of the first four shelves of the food pyramid.
  • Bottom shelf carbohydrates (energy) and fruit and vegetables (vitamin/mineral rich) are especially encouraged.
  • Any food from the top shelf of the pyramid is actively discouraged during school hours and after school activities held on site. However, children may bring a small top shelf item on Friday, or last day of term and on a school tour. Crisps, chewing gum, glass bottles/cans and fizzy, sugary drinks, are banned at all times.
  • Parents and children are asked to refrain from bringing in cakes, buns, or treats (sweets and chocolate) for birthday celebrations.
  • Staff will support the healthy eating policy and will not offer sweet treats to children as rewards or prizes.
  • If children bring ‘discouraged’ food/drinks to school, they will be allowed to consume such items but, advised to not bring them in on other days. The school will not apply further sanctions.

Suitable Drinks for Children

  • Drinks should always be included in a packed lunch. To ensure good concentration it is important for children to drink lots of water throughout the school day. Extra water should be included on PE days and in warmer weather.
  • Water and milk are the most suitable drinks for children.
  • Unsweetened fruit juices, ‘tooth kind’ drinks, yoghurt drinks and ‘no added sugar’ diluteable squash should be consumed with meals to help prevent dental health problems.
  • Fizzy drinks, energy sports drinks and any other drinks with a ‘high sugar’ content are not permitted.

Education Measures

  • Within the SPHE and Science programme, all children will receive appropriate lessons on healthy eating.
  • The Physical Education programme supports the physical development and fitness of the children.
  • Parents/guardians of incoming junior infant children and new children to the school will be informed about the Healthy Eating Policy.


  • This policy will be implemented from the 12th of January, 2015
  • A copy of The Food Pyramid will be on display in every classroom and will be referred to regularly.
  • A healthy eating week will be held during the school term.
  • Guest speakers (dictations, dental hygienists) will be invited to come and speak to the children about good eating practice.



Review and Evaluation

  • This policy revises the previous Healthy Eating Policy.
  • This policy will be reviewed each year.
  • Advice, consultation and training was received from HSE Community Dieticians.

We appreciate that encouraging children to choose certain foods is not always easy. However, with the increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes and the prevalence of dental cavities, we are encouraging best practice especially during school hours and after school activities held on site. For this policy to be successful, we need support from the whole school community.


Shanbally HPS Healthy lunch info   — Click here for more information.


Healthier Packed Lunches for Children:  What you need to know:

Eating well is important. Children need to eat well as it will give them energy and nutrients to grow and develop, be
healthy and active. A healthy, enjoyable lunch gives children the energy they need to learn and play at school.

Practical Tips for a Healthy Lunchbox

Try to vary the contents of the lunchbox daily. That way you can ensure your child is getting the variety of nutrients their bodies need to function and grow.

Involve your child in preparing their lunchbox. They are more likely to enjoy food they have made themselves.

Wash your hands before handling food. Wash fruit and vegetables before use and put food in clean containers.

To keep food fresh, make sure it is stored properly: lunches packed the night before need to be stored in the fridge. If using rice, make sure it is cooled quickly and stored in the fridge overnight. To keep your lunch fresh during the day, use a cool bag and put in a frozen drink or reusable ice pack.
Keep different breads in the freezer so you can just take out and defrost what you need for one day’s lunchbox. Using different breads will make the lunchbox more interesting and enjoyable.
If your child refuses to eat brown bread, try a lighter variety or make sandwiches using a slice of white and a slice of wholemeal bread.
For variety, use pitta strips, crackers, bread sticks, or fruit and vegetable finger foods with a dip.
Always try to add a little salad to a sandwich. To avoid soggy sandwiches, dry the salad before adding it to the sandwich or put it in a separate sandwich bag or tub.
Make a fruit smoothie by blending juice and fruit together, or a yoghurt or milk drink by mixing yoghurt or semi-skimmed milk with pureed fruit.
Make a lower-fat salad dressing by mixing it with some low-fat yoghurt or semi skimmed milk.
You can use leftovers; for example, rice and curry, vegetable pizza or pasta and sauce.
Make a salad using rice, potato or pasta from the night before, mixed with vegetables, beans and so on.
For more information and advice go to:

What is a healthy packed lunch?

A healthy packed lunch is a balanced meal providing a variety of nutrients, to be found in four food groups:

  • Starchy Foods
    Base each meal on a starchy food, such as bread, potato, rice, pasta, yam.
    Starchy foods give energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
    Bread, try different types, such as sliced bread, pitta bread, wraps or bread rolls.
    Other starchy foods, such as pasta or rice.
    Whole grain varieties are best for fibre, which is vital for a healthy digestive system.


  • Meat and Alternatives


  • Add some protein, for example meat, fish, eggs, beans or pulses. Protein foods build muscles and provide minerals.
    Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey or ham.
    Cheese, such as cottage cheese, edam, cheddar or soft cheese.
    Egg, such as boiled or quiche.
    Meat alternatives, such as tofu or tempeh.
    Dishes containing pulses, beans or meat, for example dahl, stew or bean salad.
    Use butter, margarine, mayonnaise or salad dressings sparingly, because these can be high in fat, or use lower fat alternatives.


  • Milk and Dairy Foods
    Include a dairy product or dairy alternative, such as cheese,
    yoghurt, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or yoghurt drink. These foods provide calcium necessary for strong bones and teeth, as
    well as providing protein and vitamins.
    Lower fat varieties are healthier.


  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Don’t forget to include fruit and vegetables. You can use fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre necessary for the body to function properly and to keep you strong and healthy.
  • Add tomato, lettuce, cucumber or grated carrot to
    a sandwich. A vegetable dish, such as salad.
    Fresh fruit, such as apple, banana, melon pieces or satsumas.
    Dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots or dates.
    Fruit salad (fresh or tinned in juice) or vegetable salad.
    Finger foods, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks or celery. Good with a dip, such as houmous or guacamole.
    Use fresh fruit and vegetables, which are in season to help the environment and enjoy variety!
    All packed lunches should contain at least one item of fruit, vegetable or salad.


  • Drinks
  • Drinks, especially water, help children to concentrate and feel well. Water is freely available in school.
    Another drink can be included in the lunchbox, however please do not include fizzy drinks or sugary drinks.
    Replace sugary or fizzy drinks with milk, pure 100% juice or sparkling  water.


  • Snacks and Confectionery
    Snack foods may be included occasionally but aim to make healthier choices. Snack foods tend to be high in fat, sugar and salt. Foods high in fat can cause excessive weight and may lead to heart disease. High sugar foods are high in calories and bad for teeth.
    High salt foods may increase blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and some cancers.


  • For a healthier snack: 


Replace sweets and chocolate with dried fruit, a small bunch of grapes or fruit salad.
Replace cakes and pastries with fruit bread or malt loaf.
Replace salted savoury snacks with rice cakes, breadsticks or cheese and crackers.
We only allow cakes and pastries, chocolate, biscuits or sweets on Friday.
Please do not include jam or chocolate spread filling for sandwiches