DoE makes homemade lunch mandatory to school students



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Three years ago, the Department of Education (DoE) made it mandatory for students to bring at schools only homemade lunches with a view to discourage children from consuming unhealthy junk foods in schools. 

The department in August 2011 imposed a ban on the consumption of junk foods in school premises across the country, contending that as compared to the home cooked well-balanced meals, junk foods contain low nutrition and are highly processed or ready-prepared, not suited for the health of young students. 

The government directives was an outcome of a series of discussions held with school operators and parents who themselves complained about such practices. 

Though the government issued the directives after long disucssions with stakeholders, no change was witnessed in students food habit. 

The department has now backtraced from implementing its directives after entrepreneurs and business groups submitted a memorandum at the department against the departments directives. 

A group of entrepreneurs visited the department with their demands to withdraw the department directives.  Though the department is yet to react to the demands but it is yet to work effectively on the implementatino part of it.

While the department is yet to exhibit its determination to implement its own directives, many schools and gurdians have still been neglecting directives and only some private schools of the Kathmandu valley appeared to be following the order by not allowing students to come to schools with readymade junk like lunches. 

Tek Narayan Pandey, director of the Department of Education, said that some schools had been giving positive responses by banning the junk foods in school premises. Awareness is being created among the guardians about the demerits and negative effect of junk items on the health of young children. The directives will be implemented fully within few years, Pandey added. 

However, it appears that except for the DoE directives, the government has got no policy against junk foods in schools. 

Suprabhat Bhandari, chairperson of the Nepal Guardians Association, accused the authority of failing to take resolute steps to control bad eating habits among the children. The use of junk foods has highly increased owing to busy life schedule of urban parents, who despite knowing the harmful effects, could not do much to control children from eating them. 

Kamana Manandhar, programme officer of Resource Center for Primary Health Care (RECPHEC), said most of the food advertisements appeared to target children, youths and homemakers. The junk food advertisements depicted through the use of cartoons and children have clearly been targeting youths, she added.