What can be done to ensure school food is clean, nutritious and affordable?

Children across the country have begun their new academic year. Some schools don’t allow students to go home for lunch or buy outside food meaning they have to bring their own or purchase it at school. Many parents worry about the quality of this food, especially its preparation and nutritional value, and wonder whether it is simply a money-making opportunity for the school. Vientiane Times asked some students and parents what should be done to improve the quality of school food.

 

Ms Sengkham Khamphanlittided, an official in Xaysettha district: Food is essential for a student’s cognitive development, and each school has to consider the nutritional value of the food they serve in their canteen. I also think the Ministry of Health has a role to play. Consequently, I’d like them to closely monitor school food to ensure it is safe and healthy.
Ms Aong Xayyavong, a resident of Xaythany district: Of course I worry about my three children who spend all day at school and buy food there. I want school staff to stop serving sugary snacks and replace them with fresh fruit or high protein food. I would like the authorities to monitor the food that is served and to make healthy options available.
Ms Bouasone, a student in Sisattanak district: We don’t have a choice because the school rules don’t allow us to buy food outside. In my experience, spicy papaya salad is not good for one’s digestion but many schools still serve it up along with fried food such as croquettes, meatballs or pig balls which are too oily. I would like the school principal to change the menu.
Ms Xay Duangpaseth, a resident of Xaythany district: I sometimes cook food for my children to eat at school. I believe the school’s cook may not use high quality ingredients, so as to save on costs. They just think about profit and don’t care about students’ health. The government should regulate food in schools so that it’s nutritious and reasonably priced, to protect our youngsters’ health.

Mr Souksakhone Nanthavong, a resident of Hadxaifong district: In my opinion, the government should pay for free milk to be given to schoolchildren, like they do in some other countries. Teachers should instruct students about what food is good for their health and what they should eat or drink, because some pupils just want to eat junk food all the time.
Ms Ty, a vendor in Vientiane: The school canteen should be clean and the price of meals should be fair. The government should set up a special team to check on food safety at each school, particularly in the countryside. In the rainy season, there are many epidemics and people are often affected by food poisoning so we need to attend to our children’s health as a priority.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update September 18, 2018)


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