As part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Programme at St. Coen’s N.S. we encourage our children to become more aware of the need for healthy food in their lunch boxes. There will be a whole school approach, involving teachers, parents and children to ensure that healthy eating messages are part of every aspect of school life.

What people eat is known to be a key factor influencing health. Research indicates a strong link between diet and performance (e.g. a low sugar intake promotes concentration, lessons hyperactivity, protects teeth and lessons the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. A low-salt intake reduces the risk of heart disease in later life. It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure that children have a healthy lunch at school daily.

To promote healthy eating habits in our school, we have introduced a healthy eating policy starting in December 2020.

Aims of our Healthy Eating Policy

  • To promote a whole school approach to health eating and nutrition.
  • To develop an awareness that good eating habits formed in early childhood influence health and wellbeing throughout our lives.
  • To develop awareness of the importance of food for growth and development.
  • To explore food preferences in a balanced diet.


  • To enable the child to appreciate the importance of good nutrition for growing, developing and staying healthy.
  • To enable each child to accept some responsibility for making wise food choices and adopting a healthy balanced diet.

Curriculum links

There are many opportunities in the primary school curriculum to learn about the importance of a healthy diet.

  • The importance of balanced nutrition and healthy food choices is explicitly taught through the SPHE curriculum. Food and nutrition is an important part of the strand unit: Taking Care of My Body at each class level.
  • Healthy food and nutrition forms part of the science curriculum.
  • In keeping with our Green Schools status, all food packaging and uneaten food must be taken home.


Lunch is an important meal for school-going children. It should provide 1/3 of their recommended daily allowance of nutrients, without being high in fat, sugar or salt. However, we cannot stress enough the importance of the children getting a good breakfast each morning before they come to school. This will give your child the energy needed to concentrate and learn. Research has shown that children benefit both nutritionally and behaviourally by eating a healthy breakfast.

Most of our children are availing of the FreshToday School Lunches – a morning snack and a hot lunch. All options are approved from a nutritional standpoint but please ensure you select hot lunch options that your child will eat. If receiving FreshToday lunch, there is no need for an extra lunch to be provided by parents. If your child no longer requires the FreshToday lunch, please choose the no lunch option on the menu or contact the office to cancel.

For those not availing of the free lunch scheme the first break in the morning is ten minutes so children should be provided with a small healthy snack for this break, ideally a small sandwich or piece of fruit. Fruit should be of a manageable size, peeled/chopped for younger children.

At the second break children have ten minutes to eat (younger children may need longer) before they go out onto the yard. Ideally, children’s lunches should be varied and include:

  • Two portions from the bread/cereal group
  • One portion of meat or meat alternative
  • At least one portion from the fruit and vegetable group
  • One portion from the dairy product group (please do not send in yogurts that are high in sugar e.g. yogurts with added chocolate/sweets/fudge pieces)
  • Drinks are only to be water or milk (water is to be still and not mixed with any flavourings or squashes)

Special Treats

On specific days during the school year children will be permitted special treat:

  • End of term parties
  • School trips
  • Friday treat day – children may bring in one small treat on Fridays. This may include biscuit, small bar or cake, etc. (Large sharing bags of sweets or large bars of chocolate are not appropriate. Teachers may decide to forbid these or allow a recommended portion if brought to class)
  • Teachers will remind children that this is an “occasional treat” and not “every day food”.

Food items not permitted in school:

  • Nuts (including peanut butter and Nutella) as we have children in school with serious nut allergies
  • Any drinks apart form still, unflavoured water and milk
  • Chewing gum
  • Chocolate (including chocolate spread/Nutella)
  • Sweets and Winders
  • Crisps
  • Biscuits, cakes and muffins
  • Chocolate cereal bars (some cereal bars are very high in sugar)

If any of the above foods are brought to school children will be asked to bring them home.

Other considerations:

Our school community is aware of the possibility of food allergies among our children, particularly nut allergies. Please be aware that all nuts and nut products e.g. peanut butter/almond butter and chocolate/nut spreads such as Nutella are not allowed in school as we have children in our school community with serious allergies.

Parents or guardians of children who are on special diets for medical reasons, or who have allergies, will be asked to provide as much information as possible about which foods are suitable, and which foods must be avoided. This information will be relayed to all staff.

Best Practice:

  • Ensure your child starts the day with a good breakfast
  • Provide small, regular meals, rather than one big meal each day
  • Children who take regular physical exercise will have a better appetite for healthy food
  • Serve brown bread instead of white
  • Cut rolls/wraps/sandwiches into manageable sizes
  • Be aware that young children may not be able to manage things in their lunch boxes e.g. Frubes/yogurts
  • Children will bring home any uneaten food (FreshToday collect rubbish form the free lunch scheme)

Roles and responsibilities in implementing our policy:

  • Parents have primary responsibility for providing a healthy school lunch for their child.
  • Children are encouraged to participate in making their own healthy school lunch or choosing healthy food from the Carambola menu.
  • Teachers will explicitly teach about healthy eating as part of the SPHE curriculum.
  • The Board of Management will review this policy in two years.

This policy was reviewed in November 2021. A copy of the reviewed policy will be sent to parents and a copy will be included with the Enrolment Pack for new pupils. St. Coen’s Healthy Eating Policy is available on our website at

Useful links with ideas for healthy lunches:

Signed: Fr. Donal Roche (Chairperson)
Signed: Lee Kavanagh (Principal)
Date: 4th November 2021