SCHOOL kids may soon find it difficult to buy junk food at school.
In an effort to improve the nutritional status of the city's school children, the Regional Department of Education (DepEd)-Northern Mindanao will strengthen its schools' nutritional campaigns through the strict introduction of the policy and guidelines on healthy food and beverages in schools and in DepEd offices.
Within the city, the Cagayan de Oro City Heath Office (CHO) discovered that while the malnutrition rate has been decreasing in the city, the cases of non-communicable diseases is being diagnosed in younger patients.
"It is alarming that some of the patients who have these diseases are as young as fifteen. This is due mostly because of the modern lifestyle of our youth today. Aside from eating unhealthy food, they also have such a sedentary lifestyle because most of them spend majority of their time sitting," acting city nutritionist Nenita Rabe explained.
Shiella Rose Balbanida, nutritionist dietitian of DepEd-Northern Mindanao, said this situation is not only happening in the city but in the whole country as well. Hence, DepEd, plans to counter this with the implementation of the DepEd Department Order 13 series of 2017 or the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverages in Schools and in DepEd Offices.”
Under this department order, the local schools will have to be very strict in their food serving choices, making sure that only nutritious food will be sold to school children inside the school premises.
Balbanida said that DepEd will inform and instruct the canteens and administrators of local schools to use the provided nutritional chart before serving food to their students. The nutritional chart will illustrate what healthy food that the children can access in the canteens.
"The chart will have a Green category which illustrates food high in nutrients and which should be served in schools everyday. Under the Yellow category are food that contain a little bit of sugar, fat, and salt and should be served carefully. These will only be allowed to be sold in schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Meanwhile,on the Red category are food that have very small nutrient content but has high amount of fat, sugar, and salt. These should not be allowed to be sold in school canteens," Balbanida said.
Come August, DepEd will host a series of seminars and lectures among school administrators and canteen workers to orient them about the importance of following the chart.
"This is of course a process and as of now, we have seen progress naman among the local schools in the implementation of this order. But before long, this will become implemented as part of the nutritional campaign of DepEd here in our area," Balbanida said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 15, 2017.