Transforming Solo to a Food Smart City requires committed efforts to ensure healthy food is affordable and accessible for all, including for children.
For the past two years, the city of Solo, on the Indonesian island Java, has been revamping its area to support its mission as a child-friendly city, by showing commitment to improving the lives of children and realising their rights. One of the foundational rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is right to adequate nutrition. Parents, schools and local government have their roles in fulfilling this right.
While the government plays a role in tackling this issue, we do our bit, one of which, by educating more people to adopt a sustainable and healthier lifestyle. Over the course of one year, Rikolto works with Gita Pertiwi Foundation and Perkumpulan Indonesia Berseru to advocate for the availability of healthier food options in school canteens. Underpinning this effort is recent research by Gita Pertiwi (2018) showing that 48% of food in school canteens is junk food, such as deep-fried food and chicken nugget. Our advocacy efforts so far have resulted to the adoption of healthy canteen standards in 10 schools in Solo.
To reach out to a wider audience, we held the Healthy School Snacks Festival in Solo, on March 24th, 2019. The Festival showcased local snacks prepared by high school students, school canteen operators and food entrepreneurs in Solo. We also invited the Indonesia National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) to demonstrate food safety testing. Food safety is a crucial issue to promote, as people need to be informed of the link between unhealthy food consumption and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), many of which are related to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Based on the World Health Organization NCD Country Profiles (2018), NCDs accounted for almost 73% of all deaths in Indonesia.
Drastiana Nisa, Programme Officer of Gita Pertiwi, said that the Healthy School Snacks Festival is an important step to engage more people in the discussion about food nutritional value and eating practices among school children. “We aim to inform parents and schools about food awareness because they have a role in educating children when it comes to selecting food to consume. Through the event, we want to show that healthy snacks can be affordable and accessible, “ she said.
“The Festival is one of our activities to challenge the existing surge of unhealthy foods in the markets. We have been encouraging some enterpreneurs to provide healthy foods and educating students and their parents on healthy food consumption as well. At the end of the day we expect that our activities could contribute to the achievement of food and nutrition security for children and all of population at city level.” Purnama Adil Marata, Good Food for Cities coordinator in Indonesia
Building a good relationship with local media is integral to our advocacy efforts. Through the media, we managed to get public to acknowledge that healthy food issues are important. A number of media articles reporting the importance of healthy food standards in schools can be found below: