Need Of The Hour: Private Players In School Catering

As the spending power of a typical Indian consumer increases, parents today are willing to pay on an average Rs.1500 – 2500 per month for this facility which offers healthy meal options, hygienically prepared by experts in this area.

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Breakfast, since time immemorial, has been considered a central component of a child’s nutritional well-being. After all, a good healthy breakfast refuels your body and brain, ensures a high metabolic turnover and gets you the energy needed to embrace the rest of the day. However, in this hyperactive era, the trend of skipping breakfast has gradually seeped in. Be it little ones or teenagers, they are always in a hurry, while at school or at play. Not realising that a more balanced nutritious meal is needed to fuel the energy they utilise while playing outdoors. Today, in a nuclear family tradition and a working parent’s culture, more and more children are being rushed out to school in the morning, without having the time to even grab a healthy meal at home. An affinity for western food, easy availability of processed and convenience foods, long work hours and rising prices of edible items are the leading reasons for Indian children becoming unhealthier by the day. A recent Assocham-EY report has stated that Urban India has been ranked as the third most obese nation in the world.

Traditionally, a child would start playschool at 2 years; that too for a couple of hours, followed by a formal school till 2 pm. But now schools run until early evening and it is not fair to deprive them of a nutritious meal that is critical to ensuring the growth of their cognitive abilities. India has nearly 130 million children of school age; of that, about 100 million are enrolled in school. Therefore, keeping this pressure off families, private companies are definitely a need of the hour when it comes to school catering to provide a meal that meets a child’s nutritional needs on a daily basis, that too in school.

Need for Private Players in School Catering

There is no denying that there are umpteen government-run institutions and NGO’s who have taken up the task of providing wholesome meals to children. But, in spite of having a well equipped, in-house hygienic kitchen and lasting cooks who do a good job of providing a home-style nutrient-dense meal, they are overburdened with work and therefore are unable to meet the nutritional requirements. Lacking in the bandwidth they are unable to keep pace with the growing school-going population. Not to forget the unhealthy school lunch menus that can lead to chronic health problems if not looked into.

Many times such institutions even lack the scale to hire appropriate talent required to run a successful catering service that lacks the knowledge of a child’s daily intake. Typically, a school administrator is made in-charge of the food service that has years of school admin experience but little catering experience. In spite of doing their very best, there are glitches at a time with the logistics and other aspects needed in the catering aspect, that can be detrimental to the health of the kids. It is unfair to overburden the school staff and expect outcomes from them which they cannot proactively deliver.

However, a private professional catering service has better functionality, control and practicality when it comes to school catering. They have a quality control personnel, health & hygiene personnel, purchase manager, a nutritionist, HR manager and most importantly a team of chefs & kitchen staff, housekeeping and service staff who know their job well. They ensure the service is well provided and at the same time meets the requirements of the parents and children. America has many such start-ups who have mastered the art of providing food to children at school with a menu that ensures healthy meals to the tiniest of eaters.  From exotic food options and yummy organic meals to serving umpteen items on a rotating menu; many even hold kid-juried tasting sessions where kids give the final say on the proposed menu items. These companies are definitely doing a better job at dishing up traditional as well as modern favourites for little ones with much ease. Some of our favourite non-Indian companies include Choicelunch, Red Rabbit, Chefables, and Revolution Foods.  

As the spending power of a typical Indian consumer increases, parents today are willing to pay on an average Rs.1500 – 2500 per month for this facility which offers healthy meal options, hygienically prepared by experts in this area. Private companies are painstakingly thorough with their research and their findings which makes them all the more credible with what they serve children. Parents rely on them for their service and the kids for the taste, making it a win-win situation for all.

In India, many private players are gradually covering the void by providing wholesome meals that are high in quality and taste. While some combine their love for delicious food along with their understanding of health requirements of children, many are reinventing healthy food to meet children’s taste. In all, they are playing a significant role in motivating the parent and children to make the right food choices.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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