Fresh boost brings sales success

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Last year, sixteen recreation centres made a healthy switch to champion fresh, nourishing menus for their cafes and kiosks, with the help of our Healthy Kids Advisors. Impacting tens of thousands of children and young people across Victoria, many local centres continue joining the commitment to serve local young athletes with delicious, wholesome food to rejuvenate their energy.

To date, our Healthy Kids Advisors support 21 recreation centres across Victoria.

These innovative fresh food varieties have not only been incredibly well received by the community but have also boosted sales, with more people than ever entrusting their lunchtime cravings to these transformed leisure centre cafes.



Hamilton Indoor Leisure and Aquatic Centre, Southern Grampians

Over in the Southern Grampians, the Hamilton Indoor Leisure and Aquatic Centre (HILAC) has seen an incredible boost in sales following menu upgrades supported by their local Healthy Kids Advisor, Monique Sobey.

Initially only serving old-time favourites, like hot chips and potato cakes, the HILAC team gradually expanded their menu to include tasty, fresh options such as snack packs filled with crunchy veggies and fresh dips, mini homemade pizzas, sausage rolls with hidden veggies, and frozen yoghurt pops. Patrons love the additional options, with menu items rotating seasonally to maintain freshness and increase the variety of choice.

With these exciting new options being offered at more affordable price points, more families are turning to the café for their dinners and half-time snacks. “Parents have been reporting how happy they are to have more fresh options at the facility,” says Monique, “this also means they don’t have to travel far offsite for a wholesome lunch.”

Since refreshing their menu, the HILAC Café has seen a 60% increase in sales, as young athletes rush to rejuvenate their energy with a cup of fresh seasonal fruit or granola and yoghurt.

“Our aim from the beginning was to be able to provide healthier options at an affordable price. By keeping this aim in mind, we’ve been able to increase sales significantly which has seen an increase in café profits. The margins on our products are not big, however by producing an affordable product that sells well, it means we can continue to provide these healthy options for the community. Families and school kids now know that they are able to get an affordable snack that tastes great here at the centre.” 

~ Di Dixon, Coordinator of Leisure Facilities, HILAC

Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre, East Gippsland

Across Victoria, the passionate team at Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre (BARC) have taken strides to revitalise their café, serving over 80,000 visitors per quarter. Supported by Kristina Stafford, their local Healthy Kids Advisor, the café now offers a colourful new variety of dishes put together with locally sourced, fresh ingredients.

Some popular items include fresh fruit smoothies, banana muffins, zucchini muffins, focaccias filled with fresh goodness, and pasta bakes loaded with mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Local families not only love these delicious new options but are now less-often opting for traditional menu items, such as pies and sausage rolls. Holly Stephenson, the Centre Coordinator, reports that this shift in demand has decreased the cost of food preparation for the centre. Where the cafe would usually spend around $4 for a single pie, they are now spending less to create something more filling and nutritious.

The team have also worked to transform the cafe display and environment, inviting visiting families to sit down, enjoy a wholesome meal and socialise with fellow community members.

With more families looking for delicious, fresh, quality meals and the centre utilising cost-saving recipes to create such meals, BARC has found itself pulling in a massive boost in sales. Within just two months of introducing these changes, the BARC Café saw a $2600 increase in monthly sales – an all-around win for the community!



Statewide Impact 

Urban leisure centres are also feeling the benefits of refreshed menus. The City of Greater Dandenong’s local Healthy Kids Advisor, Lauren Hewitt, has been working with the South East Leisure Centres to introduce healthy and delicious upgrades to their existing menus.

As a result, Noble Park Sports and Aquatic Centre has seen an increase in the amount of healthy food being sold, as visiting families express their delight in having such a broad variety of options. Popular menu additions include fresh sushi and smoothies – “Although the smoothies are a little slower, customers are very happy to have that as an option” says Carolyn Munro, Canteen Manager at South East Leisure Centres.  

In the City of Greater Bendigo, Peter Krenz Leisure Centre has revitalised kiosk options by partnering with local suppliers and offering creative fresh snacks, such as berry popsicles, homemade pizza, and naturally sweetened banana bread. "It's been an absolute pleasure to work with the team at Peter Krenz Leisure Centre," says Rebecca Fry, Healthy Kids Advisor for the City of Greater Bendigo, "because when we started, they were in a place of readiness to transform their kiosk." 

Prior to collaborating with Rebecca, the facility sold the traditional soft drinks, lolly pops and chips. "There is now an abundance of wholesome, delicious food on offer that's made fresh on site," she says, "the passion and commitment from Tamara and the leadership team has resulted in significant change that supports the health and wellbeing of their community members.”

The locally supplied produce has boosted the quality of menu items, and since implementing these gradual changes the centre has seen a huge increase in profits. Tamara Norden, the Customer Care Coordinator at Peter Krenz Leisure Centre, reports that the café is well exceeding their expected monthly income, with this number continuing to grow each month.

About the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative

The Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is delivered by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian Government and Australian Government.

This community engagement initiative is active in 13 priority communities to spread pleasurable food education and encourage participation in the state-wide Vic Kids Eat Well movement.

In collaboration with local health promoters, Council and community, our Advisors offer free support and simple ideas to boost healthy and delicious food and drink in schools, sports clubs, after-hours care and council-run facilities.

Want more information?

Visit the Healthy Kids Advisors news page or contact us at

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