The Nagpur University has asked all its affiliated colleges to ensure no junk food is available in their canteens besides asking them to prepare a health database of students.
The NU’s instructions comes following University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guidelines with regard to junk food. Last month, the UGC had issued a circular to all vice chancellors across the country asking them to ban junk food on their premises. However, it had not specified what it meant by ‘junk food’.
NU student welfare department director Neehal Sheikh told TOI eatables like wafers, samosa and fried items, which are ready to eat in college canteens, would be considered as junk food. He said they would ask colleges to keep only food that is not just healthy but also improves concentration of students,
“Banning junk food in colleges would set new standards for healthy food and make the students live better, learn better and also reduce obesity levels in young learners, thus preventing lifestyle diseases which have a direct link with excessive weight,” UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu said in a circular to all universities.
The UGC has also asked student welfare departments to create college clusters where counselling about proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle could be done,
“I would need to take approval from the vice chancellor and the registrar for creating college clusters. Ideally, it would have five to six colleges who would jointly work in this initiative. I also plan to rope in the physical education officer, medical officer and director of sports to implement the guidelines,” Sheikh said.
Sanjay Charalwar, principal of Mohta Science College, said, “We already have a cluster of seven colleges. We would consult experts on nutrition and health and implement this initiative through the cluster.”
NY Khandait, principal of GS College, said, “Our canteen has been serving only healthy food even before the UGC guidelines were issued. We are also monitoring the canteen on a regular basis. As for physical fitness, we have enough facilities to keep our students engaged in sports. We also have annual health camps during which health data would be complied now.