Mumbai, (IANS) Over two years after the Central government’s directive to all states, Maharashtra government has barred all schools from serving ‘junk’ or ‘fast’ foods, or those high in fats, salt and sugar content, at their student canteens and offer instead a healthy and hygienic menu.
Accordingly, from the next academic year starting June, school canteens will stop serving cakes, cookies, candies, pizzas, burgers, vada-paavs, fried foods, noodles, aerated drinks and sweets or chocolates.
These would be replaced by healthier options like pulao, rice varieties, different types of rotis, and dals, fresh vegetables, supplemented with sweet items like fruits, ‘lassi’, curds, ‘firni’, coconut water or fresh juices.
The move came in a government resolution issued late on Monday by the state Education Department implementing the December 2014 circular of the Union Women & Child Development Ministry meant to encourage students consumer healthy, natural foods.
Compulsory for all public and private schools across all education boards, the measure orders schools to select their menus based on the geographical locations and local eating habits.
Incidentally, last year, the CBSE schools had implemented the central directive by banning fast/junk foods from the student canteens.
The regulation has said that consumption of such fast food make children lethargic, deprive of nutrients and fibres, cause a myriad of health issues including obesity, tooth decay, diabetes or even heart problems, affecting their academic careers.
Schools have been directed to carry out awareness campaigns to inculcate healthy eating habits among the students by taking the help of experts and online literature.
School managements and parents have welcomed the move, though the response of the children would be known only next month when a majority of the schools will reopen after the summer vacations.
However, concerns still remain over the tiffin boxes carried by students from home and some schools are demanding that there should be restrictions even on the home-cooked fast foods.
There are also worries about how to tackle the availability of junk/fast foods in the surroundings of most schools from where the students could buy, consume and return to the campuses, or eat after school hours.