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What’s in lunch box? School to see

Gurgaon: Following guidelines issued by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) on junk food in schools, CBSE has issued a circular, asking all schools to inspect students’ lunch boxes and form canteen committees. Gurgaon schools have welcomed the idea of moderating student’s food habits, cautioning that a total ban might push students towards junk food.
Most schools that TOI spoke to said they already have a canteen committee, comprising a nutritionist and students, and the food is evaluated and improved based on feedback from students and teachers.
“We have a canteen committee comprising senior students of the school. It is a good experience for them. We though need to devise a plan for inspecting lunch boxes,” said Aditi Misra, principal of DPS Sector 45.
While well-known schools like Suncity, Amity International and Manav Rachna International have canteen committees, they were wary about inspection of lunch boxes, saying that might have its own repercussions. “While it is a good idea to monitor food habits of students, considering how detrimental junk food can be for growing kids, being too strict might just push the kids towards banned options,” said Rupa Chakraborty, principal of Suncity International School, Gurgaon.
Private schools in the city welcomed the idea and said they would take all necessary measures to follow the direction from CBSE. They said such ideas should be consultative, rather than forced in a blanket ban.
Predictably, children are not very happy with lunch box inspections, though they are all for healthy eating habits. “I think while schools might keep a check, inspection of lunch boxes is a restriction of my freedom to choose what I want to eat. They can have a healthy menu and let us have food of our choice, maybe a day per week or two,” said Sakshi Yadav, a Class X student.
There is also a debate on what comprises junk food, as there is confusion over what kind of pasta or noodles come under the rubric. While some schools pep up their menus by preparing healthy versions of noodles and pastas, sometimes using packaged material, FSSAI has classified all ready-to-eat noodles under the banned category.

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