What is SWAP IT?

SWAP IT is a free evidence-based healthy lunchbox program. The program supports parents and carers to SWAP what is packed in their child’s lunchbox from sometimes foods to everyday foods. 

  • Free – no cost for schools to take part. 
  • Easy for Parents – visual inspiration to make lunchboxes faster and healthier with no extra cost. 
  • Easy for Schools – our resources complement the existing curriculum. 
  • Proven to work – SWAP IT enhances the nutritional quality of lunchbox foods. Parents love it, and teachers see significant benefits in the classroom. 

The SWAP IT recommendations have been developed based on the latest evidence-based government nutrition guidelines. For more information, click here. 

Everyday and sometimes foods infographic

Why is SWAP IT Important?

85% of school children take a packed lunch to school every day. On average these lunchboxes contain more than three servings of sometimes foods (1).

The food children consume at school impacts their concentration, health and wellbeing. By improving lunchboxes, we can make a huge difference!  The school lunchbox contains approximately one third of a child’s daily energy intake – a significant opportunity to improve nutrition and health outcomes(2).

Everyday foods help kids grow and learn, and by swapping out sometimes foods we are setting children up for the best possible physical, mental and behavioural performance at school and home. 


Let’s improve children’s nutrition! 

In Australia, close to one quarter of primary school-aged children are classified as overweight or obese(3). A diet high in sometimes foods can lead to excessive weight gain and is a risk factor for future chronic disease.  

Sometimes foods currently contribute 40% of children’s total kilojoule intake.
Aussie kids aged 9-11 years consume 3 time the recommended amount of sometimes foods (4).

Australian healthy eating guidelines advise limiting sometimes foods. However, research shows that these sometimes foods currently contribute to 40% of children’s total energy intake (1, 4). The most recent dietary survey shows that Australian children aged 4-8 years consume around ten times more sometimes foods than recommended, with children aged 9-11 years consuming three times the recommended amount.

By improving children’s lunchboxes, limiting sometimes foods, we can make a huge difference to a child’s daily food intake, providing them with the best possible opportunity to grow and learn.


What does SWAP IT involve for schools?


Best of all, we do most of the work for you!

“Our goal is to make this as easy for schools as possible – SWAP IT is designed to be ready to pick up and run with, to save schools time” Dr Rachel Sutherland, SWAP IT program director



How can the SWAP IT messages be delivered?



For Parents (coming soon):

  • Receive SWAP IT messages direct to your phone or email. The messages will be automatically sent to you once registered. The SWAP IT messages are delivered weekly for the first term (10 messages), followed by 2 messages per term on an ongoing basis.
  • Plus, free resources to help identify foods that could be swapped out and practical ideas for healthier swaps.




  1. Sutherland R, Nathan N, Brown A, Yoong S, Reynolds R, Walton A, et al. A cross-sectional study to determine the energy density and nutritional quality of primary-school children’s lunchboxes. Public Health Nutrition. 2020;23(6):1108-16.
  2. Sutherland R, Nathan N, Brown A, Yoong S, Finch M, Lecathelinais C, et al. A randomized controlled trial to assess the potential efficacy, feasibility and acceptability of an m-health intervention targeting parents of school aged children to improve the nutritional quality of foods packed in the lunchbox ‘SWAP IT’. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2019;16(1):54.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Overweight and obesity among Australian children and adolescents. In: AIHW, editor. Canberra2020.
  4. Johnson BJ, Bell LK, Zarnowiecki D, Rangan AM, Golley RK. Contribution of Discretionary Foods and Drinks to Australian Children's Intake of Energy, Saturated Fat, Added Sugars and Salt. Children (Basel). 2017;4(12):104.

Project Partners

SWAP IT was developed by NSW Health and the University of Newcastle. Implementation support provided by the following partner organisations as part of externally funded scale-up trials:

Whilst brands may be depicted in these images and videos, SWAP IT and Good For Kids has no affiliation and do not endorse any specific food brand. We do not warrant that the information we provide will meet individual health, nutritional or medical requirements, or individual school policy.

Artwork: "The heart of a child" by Lara Went, Worimi Artist.