Junk food | Say no to junk food, say school associations: a healthy menu is offered to children

An association of nursery and primary schools has asked schools to encourage parents to replace junk food in tiffin boxes with healthy options.

Cakes, chocolates, candies, wafers and packaged drinks at birthdays or other school celebrations should be replaced with fruit and other alternatives, the association said.

It is common in schools to hand out chocolates or packaged drinks to students when a child has a birthday.

The note to schools, sent by the Early Years Association (for nursery schools) and the Association for Preparatory Education and Research (up to Class V), is part of a national #saynotojunk campaign .

The associations want schools to have a strict policy and implement it throughout the year rather than following it on a particular day or week, said Suman Sood, a member of the core committee of the Association of early childhood (ECA), a national forum for nursery schools. .

In and around Calcutta, more than 45 schools are members of the two associations.

The groups urged schools to stop taking children on trips to soft drink factories or other places that encourage “excessive consumption of salt, sugar and fat”.

Schools should give parents a menu of snack boxes to follow in order to avoid junk food, says a poster distributed by the associations.

Schools should ensure that the salt, sugar and fat content of foods served in school canteens meet the daily dietary guidelines required for children, the associations said.

“Schools should share a snack menu with parents, which should be followed on different days of the week. On one day of the week, the child’s choice may be left to the prerogative. So while their health is monitored, children also have a choice. ECA is ready to support schools by giving them recipes that they can share with parents,” said Swati Popat Vats, president of the Early Childhood Association and the Association for Preparatory Education and Training. research, from Mumbai.

A pediatric nutritionist from Kolkata said that for a growing child, parents should ensure enough iron and protein in the diet every day.

“The main goal should be a diet rich in iron and protein. When parents come to us, we tell them that they should not give their children processed foods or reduce their intake. The Indian diet is rich in nutrients and vegetable intake can be increased by hiding them in a child’s food by putting them in puree form or giving them in small quantities,” said Vidhi Beri, clinical pediatric nutritionist.

For parents, it is more convenient to give packaged foods to children.

“Parents usually put a packet of chips or cake in the tiffin. It’s easy and hassle-free, but it’s not healthy,” said Sangeeta Tandon, principal of Shri Shikshayatan School.

Heritage School, which is a day boarding school where children eat breakfast and lunch at school, serves cornflakes, uttapam, idli and vegetable sandwiches for breakfast . For lunch, the school serves rice, roti, dal, rice, vegetables, salad, pickles and raita.

The vegetable sauce contains baked beans or squash as a protein, the school said. The flour of the roti is mixed with millet or contains another filling like sattu. One fruit per day is obligatory for all children. Once a week, children receive a fancier meal – Chinese or continental, the school said.

“We do not use refined wheat flour (maida) in any form. Even though it is pasta, it is made from wheat flour (atta). We ensure that there are no more than five fried items in a month and dessert is served two or three times a week,” said Seema Sapru, director of The Heritage.

Sood, senior member of the ECA committee, said, “Schools need to be strict in implementation rather than doing it as an exercise for one week in a year. »

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