Junk the junk food

Junk the junk food

School time

The Delhi High Court recently directed the Central Government to frame necessary guidelines to ensure that the sale of junk food is restricted and only healthy food is available in school canteens.

HEALTHY APPROACH Kids campaign against junk food.This direction came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Delhi-based NGO–the Uday Foundation.

Its founder Rahul Verma, a father of two school going kids, says, “I was speaking to a doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) who was telling me how school going kids these days are falling prey to acidity, diabetes and blood pressure problems... thanks to the overconsumption of junk food. He added that if the selling of junk food in schools could be restricted somehow it would make a huge difference. That gave us the idea to file a PIL in the High Court.”

He adds that before filing the PIL he went through Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), education ministry and even health ministry guidelines to see if any directions to schools existed as to what kind of food could be sold in canteens. He says, “I discovered there were guidelines for everything--from admission to school curriculum--but none for the kind of food that should be made available to little kids. I felt this was completely wrong as a child spends a lot of time in school and needs nutritious food to go through the day.”

He adds that at this stage he approached various schools in this regard but didn’t get a response initially. However, the reaction of some parents and school kids, who came to know about this PIL through the media, was very encouraging. “Very soon, the students of Father Agnel School in Delhi, backed by their school authorities, joined us in the PIL in court. Thereafter, other schools came forward to endorse this step. Even the World Health Organisation came out with a statement on this, and with increasing support the journey became easier.”

Now, with this step having awakened the government and school authorities alike, bringing about a welcome change in school functioning, Rahul informs that they are going to start a campaign for banning junk food in hospital canteens. “This will ensure that hospitals don’t rake in profits selling junk food while patients and their families suffer. After all, hospitals are supposed to give life to people and not take it.”