Green Party calling for return of food in school guidelines to keep kids healthy

Fizzy drinks at schools are in the firing line, with the Green Party calling for healthier food in schools.

The party is calling for the return of food in school guidelines scrapped ten years ago.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes says it's an epidemic.

"Last year we saw 29,000 kids have their teeth pulled, obesity is going up - we are facing an epidemic - and our schools are still selling pies and cokes and chips and lollies."

The Greens want some cafeteria staples given 'treat food' status in schools - so they wouldn't be sold every day. 

Instead it would be food like teriyaki chicken and filled rolls.

"I think we're a food bowl in New Zealand. We could be providing nutritious, affordable food for every kid" says Mr Hughes.

The party surveyed 75 schools and found out 22 percent sell fizzy drinks, 25 percent sell lollies, and 51 percent sell potato chips.

The Greens want the Government to reinstate a decade-old guideline that schools makes only healthy food available. 

The national administration guideline came into effect in June 2008, and required Boards of Trustees to promote healthy food and nutrition for students, and ensure only healthy options are available for purchase in schools.

Ministers at the time literally danced when they announced measures aimed at getting Kiwis active and tackling obesity.

The party was short-lived - National dumped the regulation when they were elected in 2008, but left the requirement that schools promote healthy food.

"We need to acknowledge the world's moved on since 10 years ago, so we need to acknowledge many more schools are providing healthy options and it is a bit nanny state" says National MP Nikki Kaye.

Mr Hughes disagrees that it's a 'nanny state'.

"Not at all. This is simply about providing some national leadership and guidance to schools. We are leaving it up to them and kids are missing out."

Parents in Newtown mixed on who should make decisions about the food kids buy at school.

Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa has asked officials to work on ways to make schools healthier, including food guidelines. 

But a spokesperson for the Minister couldn't say whether schools will end up with food requirements or just recommendations.