Hyderabad: While the proposal by Union women and child welfare minister, Maneka Gandhi, to ban junk food in school canteens could work to some extent, schools are unable to root out the unhealthy practice because of their own limitations.
Schools say they can only bring about awareness but not impose rules on children. The ultimate responsibility lies with parents and the children themselves.
Several leading schools in the city have cafeterias apart from providing lunch and breakfast. Teachers, however, say that banning junk food at school canteens or cafeterias might not be the only option, though, these are one of the source points for children to get their junk food from during breaks.
But school canteens are not the only source. Teachers say many parents pack junk food in their children’s lunchboxes rather than a proper meal.
Ms Gandhi has proposed to substitute junk food with healthier eatables, the guidelines for which would be prepared by the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI).
“We always have sessions during orientation when we tell parents not to pack junk foods for their kids, but it continues. So the child is left with no other option. And children are not too bothered about junk food or otherwise,” said a teacher at an international school in the city on the condition of anonymity.
Schools, thus, find that the children are eating more chips, burgers and pre-packed foods instead of proper meals. While some schools are strict, others do not pay much attention to tiffin boxes as that is not a part of their duty.
Dr D. Usha Reddy, chairperson, Hyderabad Sahodaya Schools Complex, an association of CBSE schools, said that schools can only bring awareness but ultimately is the parent’s responsibility.
“Basically, we can only bring about awareness on junk food. But even, then how much can you control? We might try to do it in school but parents have the responsibility of cultivating the habit,” she said, adding that a lot of schools even had nutritionists talk about the ills of junk food.
She said that it would, however, be useful if children were told about what should be eaten rather than what should not be eaten....