Setting a higher bar to ensure healthy food at schools

Setting a higher bar to ensure healthy food at schools

in News
Maria Serenade Sinurat
Maria Serenade Sinurat
Communication Coordinator

Chips? Candies? Sugary drinks? Fresh fruits?...

These items, excluding fruits, are available at school canteens in Solo. However, changes are afoot to provide students with healthier meals during their school days.

Advocating for healthy food procurement practices

School children have a high risk of being obese due to unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Schools are said to be responsible for allowing canteens and food vendors to serve food high in fats, sugar and salt to children.

A survey carried out by the Indonesian Consumers Group (YLKI) in 2018 found that the absence of written regulation and policies on school canteen standards contributed to the availability of such food in schools. In light of this, Rikolto and Gita Pertiwi are advocating for healthy food procurement practices at schools and the formulation of Healthy Canteen Standard policy at the city level.

Collaborating with schools, we develop a healthy canteen model in schools and create a multi-stakeholder forum. The forum consists of school management, parents, government, private sector, and civil society organisations. The efforts have gained momentum due to government support.

The City Government launched Solo as Child-Friendly City, a UNICEF initiative aiming to provide children and youth with a nurturing environment for them realise their full rights and capacities, in which the Indonesian Government has pledged to take part.

The initiative itself looks at seven focus areas, spanning across education, environment, health, inclusion, participation, leisure, and protection. In Indonesia case, the government aims to build a child-friendly environment in schools, thus opening an avenue for Gita Pertiwi and the local government collaborate to foster good practices in schools.

Crucial points: nutrition and food safety

“Nutritional values are overlooked in the current standard. In the new draft of Healthy Canteen Standard that we formulate together through a multi-stakeholder dialogue, we include this point to ensure that school children access nutritious food.”
Titik Eka Sasanti Director of Gita Pertiwi Foundation

Indonesia already has a set of regulations and guidelines for dealing with school canteen management. At a national level, there is a Health Minister Decree No. 942/MENKES/SK/VII/2003 providing guidelines on hygiene and sanitation requirements of school food snacks, and a Health Minister Decree 1429/MENKES/SK/XII/2006 on health service management at schools.

While the Ministry of Environment and Forestry creates an Adiwiyata School programme to promote knowledge and awareness about conservation amongst students.

However, the on-going practices found at 15 surveyed schools in Solo were not ideal (YLKI, 2018), especially on food safety and selection monitoring. The findings inform Gita Pertiwi to ensure that Healthy Canteen Standard will include crucial points such as nutrition standards, food safety, and monitoring.

Dyan Anggraini from the Family Health & Nutrition Section, Public Health Department of Solo Health Agency mentions five requirements of healthy canteen standard: building and infrastructure, food, vendor selection, canteen management and governance, and monitoring.

“The standard doesn’t only talk about infrastructure and sanitation, but also food safety and monitoring in which the Health Agency takes part to supervise. Another important thing is canteen management that foster students’ participation in menu selection.”

Dyan Anggraini Family Health & Nutrition Section, Public Health Department of Solo Health Agency

In Solo, some schools perform better than the other, one of which is Muhammadiyah 1 Primary School. The school has complied to the healthy canteen standard. SW Winarsih, the School Canteen Coordinator of Muhammadiyah 1 Primary School says that the schools want to pioneer a healthy canteen movement by collaborating with parents and Puskesmas (community health centre).

It has met the building requirement by applying a minimum 10-meter distance from kitchen to toilet. To ensure food safety the school supervise and monitor food procurement practices.

“We carefully select food to be served at the canteen and ensure that food doesn’t contain food additives and preservatives and minimise instant food. We require food vendors to provide a certificate from the laboratory mentioning that food product is safe"

SW Winarsih School Canteen Coordinator of Muhammadiyah 1 Primary School

Students also participate in canteen management. They take part in food selection and monitoring with the guidance from their parents and teachers. Together with the Health Agency, the school carries out a monitoring activity every six months. “We test all food in our canteen every six months to ensure food safety. We had a case where we found that fruit juices served at the canteen were contaminated. We stopped selling it for a while and evaluated our food handling practices," Winarsih says.

Learning from the experience, the school pays greater attention to water sanitation and good personal hygiene practices. School canteen operators have to comply with the hygiene requirements when preparing and handling food. They have to cover their head, wear apron, wash their hands, and not wear earrings, bracelets, rings that can lead to food cross-contamination.

Muhammadiyah 1 Primary School is not the only schools trying to improve their food procurement practices. Based on the observation of the Solo Education Agency, 15 primary schools in Solo are working towards healthy canteen. The agency intends to engage more schools, especially at junior and high school levels, in the coming years.

Hartoyo of the Solo Education Agency says that the city needs policy instrument to push for the adoption of the healthy canteen standard in all schools.

“In collaboration with Rikolto and Gita Pertiwi, we want to make sure that Healthy Canteen Standard is stipulated in Mayor Regulation or even Regional Regulation that will legally bind all stakeholders, to achieve healthy school canteen in Solo."

Hartoyo Education Agency of Solo

We observed 12 school canteens in Depok and Solo to investigate their food procurement practices.

How healthy is food served at school canteens?


Purnama Adil Marata
Purnama Adil Marata
Food Smart City Curator
+62811 3854 465