Now, schools to be rated on students’ eating habits
Schools will have a separate team of trainers delivering sessions on food safety
New ‘Nourish boards’ and school wellness teams to help students cut down on junk food consumption
Indian schools will soon have a star-based rating on the basis of healthy eating habits among their students. Under the ‘Safe and Nutritious Food@ school’ programme, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is the apex health regulatory under Union Health Ministry is planning to establish a ‘Nourish board’ as a best practice in schools.
"The board will be used for displaying star-based rating obtained by the school on predetermined parameters, and as a platform for disseminating information on good practices to be followed. This will be audited by an external agency," said Pawan Kumar Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer at FSSAI.
Along with this, schools will also have a separate team of trainers delivering sessions on food safety. The FSSAI is identifying, shortlisting and empaneling trainers (either as an organisation or individual), who may undertake the development and dissemination of training content to teachers and educators to create awareness among school students at the primary and middle level.
"We are also looking at master trainers who can impart training on theory and practice on the application of basic food safety to teachers and students," said Agarwal.
"These trainers will also provide training at the national and regional level, and deliver training sessions on theory and practice on the application of basic food safety to teachers and students so that they can have healthy eating habits. With this we are aiming at making children our partners to bring food safety at each home,"Agarwal said.
Under the programme, a school wellness team will also be created. Schools will need to decrease screen time and engage students in active play. Parents and students will be imparted with knowledge about food allergies and food-borne diseases.
The FSSAI is formulating regulations to promote and administer food safety at the school level which will enable children to inculcate healthy eating habits. The food regulatory body is also preparing a list of negative food items ie foods high in fat, sugar, fat and salt. They will also monitor food served in schools.
Earlier, the food regulatory body had issued draft guidelines on wholesome and nutritious food availability in schools. Prepared by an expert committee constituted by FSSAI, the guidelines provide a scientific background on how consumption of junk food high in fat, salt and sugar is linked with growing non-communicable diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension among children.