WHILE the Education Minister, Dr Mahendra Reddy has put in place policies for school canteens to sell healthy foods, he was yesterday asked to look at how affordable it was to buy these foods.
In his reply to Dr Reddy's statement, National Federation Party leader and Opposition Member, Professor Biman Prasad said the ministry needed to realise that the unhealthy habits adopted by some students by eating junk foods in schools would have been a result of other things.
An example, he said, would be the affordability of the approved food items to be sold at school canteens to parents who did not work.
Dr Reddy yesterday informed Parliament through a ministerial statement that since the first term of school this year, the food and school canteen policy mandated all school canteens to sell only healthy food and beverages and promote a healthy food environment in school.
The ministry, he said, had also supplied a list of items which were to be prohibited from sale in canteens.
"Government needs to understand that a lot of the unhealthy habits are a result of other things. For example, for parents at home — their affordability."
"Are they able to buy fruits? What are the basic food items? We really need to look at those legislations and also look at all those specific food items that we need to bring the prices down," Professor Prasad said.
When they get home the parents can't afford it.
"That is the broader question. If you don't align those things with these policies in the schools you will not get the result."
Some health promoting foods allowed to be sold in canteens now include boiled or baked root crops, cereals, fresh salads, fruits in season, milk, water, sugar free drinks, etc.