No response from government on banning junk food in school canteens
Sonal Matharu | February 9, 2011
The government does not seem to be taking the matter of children’s health needs seriously, held the Delhi high court on Wednesday, as the authorities failed to submit a reply on banning junk food in school canteens.
A public interest litigation filed (PIL) in December by Uday Foundation, a NGO, asked for improving the quality of food sold in school canteens by banning junk foods and aerated drinks inside the school premises and within 500 yards of the school.
“The government did not reply on the matter. The court has given them six weeks’ time to submit their response,” said Rakesh Prabhakar, lawyer representing the petitioner.
Uday Foundation’s founder Rahul Verma said that the petition was filed to bring in some regulation on what is sold in the school canteens. In the petition he has asked for a ban on junk food and carbonated drinks in schools besides banning the advertisements of these items in the print and the electronic media. He wants the government to develop a comprehensive school canteen policy.
Senior counsel Neeraj Krishan Kaul, who was appointed amicus curiae in the case, submitted recommendations based on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines on the same.
Heal foundation, a NGO working on public health matters, submitted the findings of a survey they recently conducted on the eating habits among school children of Delhi and the NCR regions. They submitted the findings of the survey in the court today.
“Through our study we have found out that the school canteens seldom sell healthy food to the children, however, most of the children interviewed said that they would go for healthier options if easily available to them. We have submitted a copy of the survey’s findings which will assist the government in formulating a policy,” said Swadeep Srivastava, principal consultant, Heal Foundation.
Besides the findings of the survey, a document containing technical details of the commonly used terms and practices followed is also submitted by Heal Foundation, added Swadeep.
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