Healthy Eating Policy

A healthy school is one that is successful in helping pupils to do their best and build on their achievements. It is committed to ongoing improvement and development. It promotes physical and emotional health by providing accessible and relevant information and equipping pupils with the skills and attitudes to make informed decisions about their health. A healthy school understands the importance of investing in health to assist in the process of raising levels of pupil achievement and improving standards. It also recognises the need to provide both a physical and social environment that is conducive to learning.

At St. Oliver Plunkett B.N.S. we recognise the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet. A healthy lifestyle is essential for maintaining and protecting children’s health, for ensuring they perform to their full potential during the school day (both academically and physically) and for their growth and development. Our aim is to help them establish a healthy lifestyle that will continue into adulthood.

Benefits of a healthy lifestyle
• Helps young people develop, grow and do well in school.
• Prevents childhood and adolescent health problems such as obesity, eating disorders, tooth decay and healthy anemia.
• May help prevent health problems later in life.
• Establishing eating habits at a young age is critical because changing poor eating patterns in adulthood can be difficult.
• Sitting down to lunch/meals with other children is an important part of a child’s social education. Break time allows children to chat and talk while eating.

Balanced diet
To ensure a balanced diet, foods from each of the following food groups should be included in meals:
• Bread, cereal and potatoes
• Fruit and vegetables
• Milk and dairy foods
• Meat, fish and alternatives

A healthy diet is one that allows for a balance of different foods that sustain the wellbeing of the individual. Different lifestyles result in different dietary needs and individuals need to be aware of these and the effects of different foods on their bodies. A healthy balanced diet may vary between individuals from different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds.
Only balanced lunches/snacks are to be eaten during the day. The following foods may be included in lunches/snacks: Sandwiches, fruit and vegetables, yogurt and cheese, crackers and plain biscuits. To drink we allow water, fruit juices and milk drinks.
Fizzy drinks, popcorn, crisps, sweets, chocolate or chocolate biscuits are not allowed in school. Foods with artificial additives or high sugar content are not encouraged. Chewing gum and energy drinks are strictly forbidden.

Pupils are encouraged to drink water during the day. Drinking water is available in the yard. It is a good idea for pupils to have a plastic bottle, which they can refill. Pupils are required to take home their water bottles each day to be washed and refilled.
Treats are an important part of a healthy eating plan. Party days happen from time to time, celebrating end of term or an occasion in the class/school. Sweets can be given occasionally by teachers as part of a range of little treats and rewards/prizes in the classroom.

Responsibilities of Pupils
• Recognise that most of us need to eat more fruit, vegetables, cereals, bread and less sugar, salt and fat.
• Eat our snacks/lunch in the classroom or canteen. Take our time and waste no food.
• Bring all lunch waste home in lunchbox.
• Participate in the Recycling Programme – ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’

Responsibilities of Teachers
• Through the curriculum increase pupil’s knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards a healthy lifestyle. This is explicitly addressed within the Social Personal and Health Education Programme, the Physical Education Programme and the Science Programme.
• Work together to help each other take responsibility for our own health and to adopt health-enhancing attitude and behaviours.

Responsibilities of Parents
• Support the school’s healthy lifestyle policy by providing balanced lunches/ snacks for their children.
• Ensure your children have fruit juices, bottled water or milk with their lunch.
• Reduce the amount of waste created by your child’s lunch/snacks by using a lunchbox.
• Ask your children to participate in the Recycling Programme promoted by the school ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’
• Encourage your children to participate in out of school activities.
• Our key message to the pupils is, enjoy your food. Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups each day. Don’t skip meals.

Current practice regarding nutrition, physical activity, dental and mental health education
• Pupil’s education on nutrition, physical activity, dental and mental health education is provided in the broader context of a Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Programme. The programme is school-based, developmental and delivered in the context of a supportive whole school environment.
• The school will avail of the use of an outside visitor/speaker to enhance the work done in class. This will be considered in the context of a full SPHE programme and will be undertaken in the presence of a teacher.

Healthy School Guidelines:
• Through these guidelines, St. Oliver Plunkett B.N.S aims to help all those in our whole school community (children, parents and staff) to develop a healthy, positive and responsible attitude to nutritional, physical, dental and mental health.
• Parents and professionals will be encouraged to be good role models for healthy eating.
• Food is celebrated and seen as an important part of culture and tradition.

• Everyone working with the children throughout the school year will have opportunities for relevant training and development.
• Training will include basic food hygiene, knowledge of healthy eating and any other relevant issues.
• A range of teaching methods and resources will be used to promote healthy eating e.g. activities using media such as art, music and drama and expertise sought from external agencies.
• Snack times/mealtimes will be an opportunity for positive social interaction and promoting social skills.
• For a lunchbox to be nutritious it has to contain food from the first four shelves of the food pyramid.
• Some of the healthy snacks that we encourage for small break include fruit, yogurt, crackers, cheese, raisins….
• All classes will receive a sufficient amount of lessons each term on nutrition.
• Enough time will be given to pupils to eat their lunch. Teachers and older children will help younger children with their lunch.
• Teachers will discuss nutrition with 5th and 6th class, who will be peer educators to the younger pupils.
• Teachers will provide positive modeling and supportive attitudes to encourage healthy eating.

Dental Health
• Dental health and disease prevention is important so children are encouraged to drink milk and water during the school day.
• The school is a ‘sweet-free’ zone.
• The staff in our school has the knowledge to deal with dental trauma.
• This school acknowledges the importance of brushing twice daily.
• Our school has a ‘no fizzy drinks’ policy.


• The school will review the healthy eating guidelines every 12 months.
• Every child will be enabled to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes dedicated physical activity each day. Active play equipment will be provided at break times for children’s use.
• This school will provide two hours of physical education per week to every child delivered by appropriately qualified staff. The qualifications of coaches and delivering sport and physical activity programmes will be checked prior to lessons.
• This school will provide secure storage for bicycles for those children cycling to school.
• This school provides opportunities for physical activity that are inclusive and that are appropriate to age, gender and ability. Extra curricular activities provide a wide variety of activities both competitive and non-competitive, team based and individual based.
• This school will provide physical and social environments that encourage and enable physical activity in a safe setting: Adult supervision, teaching in safe methods of physical activity training, safe facilities and the appropriate use of protective equipment are all components of a safe environment for physical activity.
• This school promotes sport and physical activity by providing information on sports clubs and physical activity opportunities within the community via a newsletter.


School starts at 9:20 each morning and finishes at 3 p.m.
Pupils are not permitted on school grounds before 9:00 in the morning.

St Oliver Plunkett Boys National School
Aghanargit, Moate, Co. Westmeath

T: (090) 648 1862

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