The UT Education Department had issued a set of directives two years ago,to ban fast food in the city schools,but there seems to be no implementation of the directives,as most of the school canteens continue to sell hot dogs,chips and cold drinks. However,there are some schools that prefer healthy food and are keeping a strict check on the lunch students bring from home.
Gurpreet Arora,the co-ordinator of New Public School,Sector 18 said,We keep a check on lunch boxes through the teachers. Teachers are not allowed to come downstairs in the staff rooms during the break time,they have to be in their respective classes to check whether students eat their homemade food within time. There is a canteen which has very few items like chips,juices and patties but it is usually used by the students of class X and XI. Otherwise,the students are encouraged to bring their own lunch boxes.
We have special arrangements for pre-primary classes where the students are asked to bring different food everyday and of different colour. We prefer healthy nutritious food. For example,on every Monday,children have to bring a green vegetable along with chapatis,then on Tuesday,brown bread sandwiches and on every Fridays,they have to bring fruits, added Arora.
Sonu Sudhera,the mother of two children who study in New Public School,said,The school teachers check all the lunch boxes,and junk food like noodles,Maggi,burgers or hot dogs are all banned. The school prefers healthy food like sandwiches,paneer or vegetables. They have to carry fruits every day along with the lunch box. This makes our work easier and students also do not demand junk food as it is not allowed. The best part of the school is that,every Saturday,they have a canteen day when students have an option to bring Rs 5 to 10 to eat patties and that is what they get in their canteen. In the canteen of Government Model School Sector 16,Chandigarh,chips,hot dogs and samosas are still sold but efforts are being made to curb this.
Anujeet Kaur,Principal of GMSSS-16,Chandigarh added,We have a canteen committee to keep a tab on the canteen food. I also visit the canteen on alternate days to keep a check on whether they are selling burgers and other such items. Instead of cold drinks,we have different juices and lassi. St Annes Convent School also encourages all its students to bring food from home. Nirmala Menon,Co-ordinator of St. Annes school said,Our school doesnt have a canteen and we dont even allow students to bring chips and coldrinks from outside. There is a strict check on the lunch boxes everyday to ensure that do not eat noodles,burgers or any fast food. During some functions or school fates,we even fine students,if they bring items from outside.
The principal of Strawberry Fields,Sangeeta Sekhon,however has different views. If students are asked to bring this and not that,it simply means that we have lost the battle. We cannot enforce anything on students,the more we say no to something,the more likely they are to do the opposite. We have canteens which sell kathi rolls,ice tea,juices and chips. Students are themselves intelligent enough to keep a balance in their diet. We keep organising presentations for the students on benefits of healthy food so that they can avoid junk food, Sekhon said.
To this,DPI schools,Upkar Singh,said that this issue has more to do with sensitisation than sending circulars to each school asking to ban junk food. It is very difficult to confine students within the walls of nutritious food everyday. He added,We need to sensitise them towards the importance of healthy food.