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Education Training, Food Beverages

Celebrate Canteen Week is here for 2024!

ASCA Ltd 3 mins read
Celebrate Canteen Week logo

ASCA is a not-for-profit member association of over 6500 schools Australia wide. Each year, ASCA helps schools and school canteens save millions of dollars, and it also funds a wide range of charities that support the education of vulnerable children, such as the Smith Family and The Song Room. We have raised over $10M to date in support of these charities. 


Each year ASCA runs “Celebrate Canteen Week” to recognise the work of volunteers and staff in school canteens. They do a critical job but rarely get recognised for their contributions. This year Celebrate Canteen Week is back from May 20 – 24. 


It is an important opportunity for school canteens to increase awareness in their school communities about what they offer. Often, they have themed days, or introduce new menus, or just do fun things with the students like games and competitions. 


Currently, school canteens are recovering from a difficult couple of years, impacted heavily by COVID, supply chain issues and more recently, cost of living implications. 


There are increasing pressures on school canteens to remain profitable and viable, which leads us to ask the question, will the school canteen as we know it survive? Among the 5000+ school canteens in Australia, it would be rare to find one that is not facing increasing pressure due to working with thinner profits and the difficulty in offering healthier menu choices while competing with local food outlets and delivery services.   


David Edwards, ASCA CEO, says, “ASCA believes that canteens can be both successful and healthy, as long as these objectives are kept in balance.” Many school canteens have adapted well to the pressures they face, and not surprisingly they have recovered well from current challenges. 


The recipe for successful school canteens includes several different components. Right at the top are the staff in the canteen who must be properly trained and understand the needs of the school community. Outsourcing the canteen can seem an irresistible temptation to principals who have the core job of addressing the learning needs of their students. However, outsourcing to a catering firm that does not understand the school community may be a recipe for disaster. Equally important is a well-equipped school canteen. Unfortunately, state government healthy eating guidelines have not been accompanied by resources for school canteens to properly equip. Many still have little more than a pie warmer. 


Well-staffed and well-equipped canteens were able to adapt to the challenges they faced recently. Such canteens have also made a point of listening to parents and students, and providing them with the choices they want, while also increasing the overall health of the menu. 


Finally, technology in the canteen is vital. Online ordering and cashless transactions have long been seen as important for improving productivity in the canteen. However, today’s requirements include avoiding big queues, and handling of cash. Good systems also translate to a well-run canteen with less food waste. 


There is no question that more changes will be necessary for school canteens to survive and prosper. However, ASCA is confident that schools that adopt best practise approaches to running their canteens will be successful. 


Celebrate Canteen Week is a time when schools should review whether their canteens are achieving all they want for their schools, and if not, then what should be done. 

Key Facts:

ASCA is not-for-profit, established for 45 years.

We have raised over 10 million to support charities that aid the education of vulnerable children.

Celebrate Canteen Week is an annual initiavtive, put in place to recognise school Canteen staff and volunteers for their valued contributions

About us:

ASCA is a not-for-profit member association focused on maximising the purchasing effectiveness for schools. Its surplus funds go to charities that support educating vulnerable children. With a member base of over 6,500 schools, ASCA focuses on improving the financial outcomes for schools by using its significant buying power to bring savings and improved service to schools and school canteens.

Contact details:

Christine Bucca Deputy CEO & Marketing Manager 0497963726


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