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Pune college students not ready to bite ban on junk food unless served with affordable alternatives

Although the objective is to encourage a healthy lifestyle among the youth, most students feel the rule could do more harm than good.

pune Updated: Sep 08, 2018 16:07 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,pune colleges
Students having snacks in the canteen at Fergusson college on Friday. (Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

With the University Grants Commission (UGC) directing all varsities and higher education institutions to ban sale of junk food on their campuses, the institutes in the city are still warming up to the change.

Although the objective is to encourage a healthy lifestyle among the youth, most students feel the rule could do more harm than good.

A closer look at five top campuses of the city, Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Fergusson College, Marathwada Mitra Mandal College of Commerce (MMCC), Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) and Nowrosjee Wadia College, revealed that none of the colleges followed the UGC directive and have been rampantly serving junk food to the students.

Students, however, feel that if healthy food burn a hole in the pocket, it might not be appreciated.

According to a student of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Madhumati Khandale, the rule needs to have strict implementation and a long-term outlook to do substantial good.

“The objective is positive but just by imposing a new rule, you cannot bring a sea change in the eating pattern of the generation. Also, most of the college canteens sell junk and fast food, owing to its rising demand. Unless strict rules are in place, it cannot be changed so easily,” said the first year MSc Library Science student. The ban has been imposed in colleges to encourage students towards a healthy lifestyle to live better, learn better and reduce obesity levels, and prevent lifestyle diseases.

“Many students come from outside the city, staying in hostels on pocket money or stipend. Managing without home-cooked meal, they mostly depend on cheap and fast food available in the canteen. If the colleges are ready to provide healthy food at not just reasonable, but price affordable for students, then the rule might work. Otherwise, it might fall flat on implementation,” said Akshay Chavan, first year post graduation student of Indian film studies at Fergusson College.

The Pune university, after taking cognisance of the matter has decided to hold a meeting with the canteen committee.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, registrar Arvind Shaligram said, “We will be holding a canteen committee meeting soon. The committee will closely study the directive and make a list of recommendations for the implementation of the directive across our campus. We will also encourage other colleges affiliated to us, to follow the UGC guidelines for the larger benefit of our students.”

Agreeing, principal of Fergusson College, Ravindrasinh G Pardeshi said, “Earlier, on our own we had informed the canteens and mess to take care of the quality of food and not serve unhealthy junk food. Change cannot happen overnight, even if a circular comes, it is a slow process and we will do everything possible to implement it. The implementation to have lasting impact should be balanced and planned.”

While appreciating the aim, some students also put forth a few suggestions to be considered by UGC and their respective colleges.

Soham Kumbhar, an FYBSc student of Nowrosjee Wadia College complained that the implementation without an healthy alternative at affordable rates is unjust to the students.

To that, Ravindra Parihar, a third year LLB student at Marathwada Mitra Mandal College of Commerce (MMCC) said, “I am health conscious but not everyone is. Instead of making the change overnight, why not spread awareness among students. Also, banning fast food would have an adverse effect on the canteen managers’ business. Instead, why not encourage mess and canteens to serve food with more hygienic and healthier ingredients, at affordable rates. A lot of places use harmful additives, like colour, soda, etc in food to cut down expenses. With the help of the college and a little more aid financially, its better to encourage the places to serve the same food without the harmful substances.”

The circular was released after a report by the ministry of women and child development on consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) and promotion of healthy snacks in schools.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 16:00 IST