Menu planning tool aims to tackle obesity

Published on Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Last updated on Monday, 27 January 2020

Article hero image

In an effort to curtail obesity in young children the Australian government has launched feedAustralia, a menu-planning tool to support early childhood education and care services to provide meals which meet Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Currently one in four children are considered overweight or obese and meals given to children in child care account for up to 67 per cent of their daily nutritional requirements. feedAustralia was developed by researchers and nutritionists from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Population Health to improve the delivery of food and drinks to children in care and is based on best-practice evidence.

Professor John Wiggers, from the School of Medicine and Public Health, at the University of Newcastle, who was on the development team says feedAustralia is about giving directors, cooks and food handlers a seamless and fail-safe menu planning tool that immediately determines if each dish meets Australian Dietary Guidelines.

"We have heard from many providers that while they do their best to provide nutritious meals for their children, it is difficult to know whether each dish across their menus is meeting the guidelines.

"The feedAustralia program bridges the gap between the world’s best nutritional expertise and the day-to-day practices of early childhood education and care providers. Essentially, it equips providers with an in-house dietician," he said.

feedAustralia was made freely available to early childhood providers in March and it has been developed to sit within existing child care management systems. It includes a nutritional database of recipes and snack suggestions, with established energy, macronutrient profiles and food group breakdowns. The recipes make use of seasonal ingredients and, according to feedAustralia, are easy to prepare.

The feedAustralia online menu planning tool provides early childhood education and care providers with:

  • An online nutritional database that includes more than 200 healthy recipes and snack suggestions with established energy, macronutrient profiles and serve size recommendations
  • A translation of expert nutritional knowledge into everyday 'best food selection' equipping adults with the know-how, resources and confidence to provide healthy and nutritious food to the children in their care
  • Nutrition resources, including suggestions and tips to reach food group recommendations and align with Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • A real time assessment of menus against nutrient, energy and serving size data
  • Analytics to enable menu disaggregation (ingredients) to support food ordering
  • An automated assessment of menu compliance per child based on food combinations
  • A real time alert when a planned menu does not adhere with Australian Dietary Guidelines or child dietary needs (allergies)
  • Decreased wastage by generating automated shopping lists and greater management of portions
  • Translation of 2,000 foods typically consumed by Australians and frequented by child care services into food groups
  • Suggested meal or snack substitutions/suggestions that will enable menu compliance
  • Nutritional analysis of menus over time
  • Dashboards that demonstrate performance against government indicators

Learn more about feedAustralia and sign up for the program here.

Related Articles

Article image

How to turn mealtimes into successful development experiences |

Why mealtimes are so valuable for young children in care, ways to improve your current systems and create different mealtime experiences.

Article image

Reduce your food waste

FeedAustralia's online meal planning resource assists early childhood education and care providers design healthier menus.