Eating right is an important aspect in maintaining an individual's health, even more important than any form of physical activity. Among children, it becomes a vital concept to be nurtured as childhood is considered to be the "developing stage" of one's life. Teaching children to eat healthy would be a lifelong lesson they could carry along to avoid many lifestyle diseases in the later stages.
However, eating right is a concept that has not yet made its way into children's curriculums or syllabi. These are habits that are expected to be inculcated from one's home or surroundings. The extent to which it gets registered among children is a topic for another debate. Bringing a change within this system and ensuring a healthier generation, the Chandigarh Food Safety Administration has brought a welcoming move to government schools.
Healthy Habits For A Healthy Tomorrow
A study conducted by Dr Rajneesh Kapoor, a leading cardiologist and a Punjab Rattan awardee, revealed that about nine out of ten children from Delhi and Punjab are leading an unhealthy lifestyle. The team under Kapoor evaluated about 3,000 children between the ages of 5-18 with a questionnaire. This was then used to get a rough idea of their cardiovascular health, and the results that came out were worrisome.
A higher majority of respondents from Delhi and Punjab were not leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, and an increasing number of children were found to be overweight. Additionally, they also dedicated lower time to physical activity and more screen time on their digital devices. To resolve this concern and prevent children from being overweight, the Chandigarh Food Safety Administration (FSA) partnered with the Education Department to launch the "Eat Right Schools" initiative.
The program aims to improve the quality of food served to students from the school canteens. In the first phase, the project would be implemented across 100 government-run schools in the city. In the later stages, it would then be extended to private schools in the state. It would also be ensured that a thorough supervision program will be conducted to take the message to the students and staff.
Switching To Millet-Based Diets
The officials have charted out the project in a manner such that the food supply and facilities of schools will be comprehensively inspected, after which necessary training and changes will be brought in. According to Sukhwinder Singh, the Designated Officer from the FSA, a third-party auditor will be appointed to monitor the food served in the schools and ensure they're up to the mark. Based on the initial audit, five schools were found to be in line for certification under the "Eat Right Schools" initiative.
As for the rest of the canteens, unhealthy items like fried, processed, and high in sugar foods will be replaced with nutritious and healthy alternatives. Millets will now serve as an essential part of the student's diet, and chefs will be working on creating a pamphlet that carries simple millet-based recipes such as instant porridge or lassi. The staff members will also be trained to prepare these new additions to the menu and maintain and improve the kitchens.
According to a report by the Financial Express, students will also be an active part of this project. They will be introduced to healthy eating habits through an array of activities. The officials would be conducting programs such as slogan writing and painting to inspire children to eat right.
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