Goodbye pizza, burger! Centre bans junk food in school cafeterias

Schools have welcomed the order, which will be in force from Dec 1, as they believe it will help in promoting healthy eating habits among children
Representational image
Representational image

Carbonated drinks, packaged juices, chips, burgers, pizzas, samosas and other junk food will go off the menu at cafeterias in schools and snack bars within 50 metres of their campuses from December 1.

As part of its 'Eat Right' campaign, the Centre has banned the sale of pre-packaged foods - referred to as food items high in fat, salt and sugar - to children in school canteens, hostel kitchens, on mess premises or shops within 50 metres of the campus.

Welcoming the order, the schools in the state said they have been following the policy for quite some time.

"We welcome the decision and will implement it in all the member institutions of the Council of CBSE Schools Kerala," said the Council's secretary-general Indira Rajan. "Any order passed by the government for the benefit of children will be implemented in its true spirit."

"I think the order will help students adopt healthy eating habits. The decision to ban vendors selling junk food within 50 metres from the school campuses is also wise as such shops discreetly sell narcotics and tobacco products under the guise of snacks," she said.

Global Public School principal Sreekumar Kartha said promoting healthy eating habits among students has been the policy of the school right from the beginning.

"We have an entirely traditional menu. For breakfast, we serve our students idli and dosas with vada as a side dish. The lunch comprises rice with sambar, vegetables and a non-vegetarian dish that varies every other day," said Sreekumar.

"We've even asked our students to bring only wholesome food," he said. "The only sweet that we serve along with the meals is the dessert. But that too is done only in the right portion," he said.

Of late, many CBSE schools in the state have been promoting healthy eating habits among students, saying they should bring fruits or vegetables, instead of biscuits and other bakery items.

Healthy eating protocol

Deputy Director of Education (DDE), Ernakulam, D Leela said the government and aided schools are already following healthy eating protocol.

"As of now, the government and aided schools don't have cafeterias on campuses. The students are served meals at the school under the noon-meal scheme. The ingredients used to prepare the meals are nutritious. So the question of implementing the order doesn't arise at all," said the DDE. In the case of vendors selling junk food within 50 metres from campuses, we'll initiate the same action being taken against the shopkeepers who sell banned tobacco items, the DDE said.

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