Food@Sydney Series Discusses Eating at School and Work

Who is responsible for our food environment?

The third Food@Sydney seminar for 2016 kicked off with three short talks discussing healthy food environments at school, university and work, asking the question ‘Who is responsible for our food environment?’

Associate Professor Teresa Davis from the Business School spoke about the mixed messages that modern parents and children receive in high income countries like Australia and the UK around healthy foods and eating. ‘For many parents, particularly women, children’s lunchboxes are a site where the discourses around obesity are contested by children, parents, schools and public policy, many of which focus on blaming parents,’ noted Teresa.

Elly Howse, from Healthy Sydney University and a PhD candidate in the Prevention Research Collaboration, discussed why universities are important settings for promoting healthy food access, particularly for young adults: ‘Universities and their graduates are hugely influential. There’s a clear role for higher education institutions to create healthy food environments for their students and staff and demonstrate leadership in this area. We have to move from a culture that normalises and promotes highly processed products that are detrimental to people and planet.’

Tom Treffry, Workplace Environment & Wellbeing Manager at AMP, discussed workplace strategies that organisations can employ to promote the health of their workforce. Tom noted that AMP is focused on creating a workplace experience that promotes the health of their employees: ‘Using new frameworks such as the WELL building standard, we are working on new ways to promote healthier food offerings in our buildings.’

Following the talks was a panel discussion chaired by Dr Brian Jones (Faculty of Agriculture). Questions from the audience to the panel included addressing issues such as healthy food clauses in leasing arrangements, using social networks of institutions and organisations to promote health, and reaching out to marginalised and vulnerable communities.