The Government will be implementing a school nutrition policy aimed at keeping children healthy by encouraging them to increase the consumption of vegetables and drinking more water as opposed to sugary beverages.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, made the disclosure in his 2022/23 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on May 3.
“This year, myself and colleague, Minister of Education and Youth Favyal Williams will seek to table and to launch, new policies and law around food options in our schools through the soon-to-be-implemented school nutrition policy,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton informed that the policy proposal has passed through the stages of internal consultation and is to go before Cabinet as a Green Paper.
He said that the Government will work to guide and, in some cases, mandate school cafeterias to prepare healthier options for students.
“We must help our children to develop healthier habits, and the school environment is the best place to start; this is what we talk about when we talk about prevention. We must make the link between the cost of sickness and the need to avoid or at least delay sickness, and these are the actions that we need to take,” he contended.
As it relates to restrictions on sugary drinks in schools, Dr. Tufton said inspections are taking place by parish health officers in light of the resumption of face-to-face classes.
“Once that is completed, we will again resume strict instructions and enforcement around ensuring that the sugary drink restrictions in schools are established and maintained,” he said.
Effective January 1, 2020, sweetened drinks with total sugar concentration exceeding a maximum of five grams/100 ml, are restricted from schools.
This is a reduction from the limit of six grams/100ml implemented in January 2019.
Dr. Tufton implored private-sector food suppliers not to provide schools with products that are against school policy.
“Start to reformulate, create and provide options for young people, for children in the school environment. In fact, the new food and nutrition school policy that is coming is going to have restrictions on certain things.
“It is better to get acquainted with that now and we are prepared to sit and talk,” he said, noting that the objective is to provide children with nutritious options, so that they can become healthier adults.