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Healthy School Canteen for Improved Food Environment at School

Healthy School Canteen for Improved Food Environment at School

School canteen and other school food services are part of the food environment important not only for influencing food choice of the students and the whole school community, but also as media for character building education that is nutrition and health oriented.

Nevertheless, in the case of Indonesia, the realization of certified healthy school canteen requires multifaceted efforts as it is challenging and involving multiple layers of stakeholders. Many guidelines from various different government authorities have been published and circulated, but clearly this has minimum impact on the motivation of the school authorities to establish school canteen that is at least clean and health oriented.  The aim of healthy school canteen in Indonesia is to provide safe, healthful and nutritious foods/drinks.  This is probably a high-to-reach goal as challenges that are mostly revealed with school canteen program include 1) poor infrastructure, 2) lack of knowledge on hygiene and food safety that induces poor hygiene practice of the food handlers, 3) suboptimal motivation and commitment from the school authorities and management, and 4) finally poor quality foods/drinks sold in the canteen.

Responding to this complexity, with Nutrition Goes to School (NGTS) as one of the priority programs since 2015, SEAMEO RECFON has cultivated some lessons learned from the school based projects that include potential “room for improvement” in the section of school canteen.  For this reason, between 7th to 9th March 2018, SEAMEO RECFON took the initiative to gather school practitioners within its network in Jakarta, Depok, Bogor, and Malang that consisted of school principals, teachers, key person of the School Foundation (from private school), and health authorities from the local public health centres. The gathering was meant to develop easy-to-digest guide for putting the existing school canteen to “the next level”, as well as to document best practices from all practitioners in relation to their experiences dealing with the school canteen and its related matters.  The book is scheduled to be published in August 2018.

The book will consist of a guide mainly addressing 1) situation of school canteen in Indonesia, 2) the concept and “how-to” steps for establishing healthy canteen, 3) the role of school canteen to influence a healthful food environment at school, 4) ideas for using school canteen for character building and nutrition education, and 5) some potential means for partnership. The book will also cover as many as 11 best practices driven by the practitioners that include 1) Establishment and management of school canteen under School Cooperative Organization (SMPN 275, Jakarta), 2) Establishment of student’s patrol for monitoring the school canteen and sellers outside school (SMPN 275, Jakarta), 3) The controlling and monitoring roles of public health centers in school canteen (Senen & Depok Public Health Centres), 4) Establishment and management of school canteen using student club – “competence-based training/CBT” (SMK Wikrama, Bogor), 5) School canteen development as a collaborative work with the academia (SMAN 1 Singosari, Malang), 6) the role of school principle in guiding and committing to the healthy school canteen (SDN Cisalak 3/Mekarjaya 21, Depok), 7) The involvement of tripartite -  students, teachers, parents in the school canteen (Yayasan BPK Penabur), 8) The development of school canteen management for reaching the accreditted health school canteen (Yayasan BPK Penabur), 9) Demand creation for healthier food choice for schools with “external” canteen  (SMK Geo Informatika, Bogor), 10) Establishment and management of semi-permanent school canteen (SDN Kramat 06, Jakarta), and 11) Education and monitoring of food sellers outside school (SEAMEO RECFON). 

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