Junk food ban: Why Mumbai schools and parents are a worried lot

Mumbai: School authorities and parents are in a fix after the Maharashtra government’s recent order on ban of junk food sale in school canteens. Though they have welcomed the ban, they are skeptical about the prices of healthy food items and various other factors needed for preparation and sale of the items.

The Government Resolution (GR) issued on Monday defined junk food as any eatables containing high amount of fat, salt and sugar. Now, instead of fried potato chips, noodles, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, pizza, burger and sweets, the canteens would now have to sell items like rotis made of wheat, parathas, rice, dal, chickpeas, kidney beans, vegetable pulav, idli-vada, coconut water, milk and sugar-free dairy products.

Schools authorities pointed out that the healthy food items should be cost-effective and should also attract the students.

“It is a good move by the government but these healthy food items should attract the students. Some eat puri bhaji and rice at home and they would not prefer to eat the same food in school,” Ujwala Zare, principal of Sheth Gopalji Hemraj High School, said.

Most schools are also considering better management of canteen and staff for implementation of the ban. “To prepare

healthy food items, we will have to hire cooks and most of the food items will have to be prepared on the spot. We welcome this move

but the food should be cheap considering the different kind of students and their buying power,” stressed  Dilshad Thobani, principal of H.A. and L.S. Girls High School.

In the meantime, parents prioritised the health of their kids but felt that the government’s move would pick holes their pockets.

Jaya Mane, a parent said, “A vada pav costs Rs 10 but a rice plate will cost Rs 25 or so and hence we will have to give our kids extra pocket money. We give our kids their daily tiffin but still our kids prefer eating some fast food from the canteen that is cheap.”

Parents also felt that the move would compel students to eat from outside the campus.

“If students do not find the canteen food interesting, they will move out of school and eat from roadside vendors. This will affect the health of our kids and will the school be able to stop the students totally?” a parent enquired.

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