A day after the school education department banned on the sale of junk food in school canteens across the state, Mumbai schools said this alone would not cut off children’s access to junk food. They said that junk food should be banned in lunch boxes and at eateries around schools.
The department’s decision was based on a recommendation by a working group formed by the ministry of women and child development to stop schools from serving food high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).
Fried food, pizzas, burgers, noodles, carbonated drinks, bread, pastries and all kinds of sweets will not be sold in school canteens from now.
But the department has not said anything about food students bring from home. Schools said it was necessary to extend the ban to children’s tiffins as junk food is an easy option for working parents.
“Most international schools do not serve junk food in their cafeterias, but students have always had instant noodles and frozen food in lunch boxes that they bring from home. Parents often demand that we serve junk food at least twice a week,” said Kavita Aggarwal, chairperson of the Members of International Schools Association (MISA), a group of more than 300 international schools. She said this was causing obesity among students. “This can only be prevented if parents also teach their children to eat healthy,” she said.
Another recommendation of the group that schools want implemented is a ban on eateries selling junk food within 100m of the school, and set up canteen management committees to monitor the food served in schools. “Officials should ensure that no junk food is sold near schools,” said Uday Nare, a teacher at Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.
Nutritionists said schools should incorporate more physical exercise in their timetables. “Schools need to ensure students get enough exercise, keeping in mind their age, climatic conditions and other factors. Two periods a week would be a good start,” said Dr Ushakiran Sisodia, clinical nutritionist, Nanavati Superspeciality Hospital, Vile Parle.