Government bans junk food from schools

| 27/08/2010

(CNS): Students attending government schools will no longer be allowed to eat fast food on campus. Kids will also be faced with healthier choices on the schools’ own lunch menus as part of government’s goal to improve the health of the country’s young people. The Ministry of Education said it is advancing the fight against childhood obesity and has implemented the Cayman Islands Public Schools: Standards for Food Provision (CISFP) as part of the requirement for canteen contracts, which are publicly tendered. The CISFP document stipulates the healthier meal options that must be offered during lunch and snack breaks in government school canteens and bans junk food deliveries and consumption while children are on campus.

The document wasdeveloped in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the Children’s Health Taskforce and comes in the wake of alarming statistics regarding the weight and health of the country’s kids.
“Poor childhood nutrition can have lasting effects, impairing cognitive development and school performance,” Rolston Anglin minister for education said. “This is our opportunity to make a measurable difference in student health and well-being. Research consistently shows that children who eat healthier meals perform better academically and are absent from classes less often.”
The Health Services Authority’s 08/09 Annual School Health Screening reported that 37 percent of students aged 11 to 14 are either overweight or obese. Results from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global School-based Student Health Survey reported that in Cayman, 58 percent of boys and 64 percent of girls aged 13 to 15 spend more than three hours daily watching television, playing computer games or otherwise sitting and socialising outside of school hours. Of the 34 countries surveyed, Cayman’s youth were revealed as being the most inactive.
“We are a very small country compared to most of those included in the WHO report,” said Anglin. “So it’s quite alarming that our youngsters should top the lowest activity list.”
The CISFP document for school food contracts lists 11 standards as guidelines for the different types of food groups and details items that should and shouldn’t be served in school. It also outlines the frequency with which certain foods should be offered.         Serving- and good practice suggestions are also outlined. Examples include the use of lean meats; preparing baked rather than fried items, and providing drink options that do not contain preservatives, flavouring or colouring.
Deep-fried foods and fatty meat products are restricted and may only be served once every fortnight. Certain items such as snacks having a high salt and fat content are also no longer allowed as part of the school lunch- or break service.
Government officials said that most of the new snack and drink options offered comply with the Competitive Food Guidelines developed by the US-based Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It aims to reduce childhood obesity by 2015 and empower kids to make healthy lifestyle choices. The alliance was founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation.  
“We are of course aware that initially, students may be reluctant to try new or strange dishes,” Anglin noted “So we’re taking steps to ensure that the meals are both attractive and tasty. Children will also be able to request small ‘taster’ portions for dishes which may be unfamiliar.”
For more information on the Cayman Islands Public Schools: Standards for Food Provision visit the Ministry’s website: .
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  1. Say It Aint So! says:

    Great move!!! Long term this willnot only benifit the youth of today tomorrow in improving their health but also eliminate costly health care expenses of tax payers.

  2. Whizz Dom says:

    But who is going to grow up to be our political leaders?  I thought obesity was a pre-condition for standing for leader of a party.  What happens if our politicians have the energy to stay awake through an entire afternoon in the LA?  They could only do more damage.

  3. Evette Scotts says:

    I am very happy with this decision that they have decided to make although they should have made that madatory from years ago but hopefully we can see a decrease in obesity in our young teens.

    Another thing I would like to say is that they should have a madatory exercise class and or have an after school sports that children can join which would help them to be confident when it comes to being cautions with their size that they can feel confident and not ashamed of their size because everyone is a winner and everyone derserves to be treated equal and should not feel any less of a person just because they may be a little overweight .

    Overweight usually comes from : peer presure,bad eating habits, lack of exercise and stress some people may comfort eat when they are upset they may eat to help ease their stress but instead of it easing it causes more stress.

    Young children of Grand Cayman should NOT! be overweight there should be numerous of sports THAT! all children FEEL! comfortable being in the sports meaning there are encouraging people around you who cheer you on even on your though days because  face it no individual wants to  be somewhere they aren’t comfortable and can grow to be confident within themselves.

  4. Kent says:

    Now given the fact that I am a Carpenter/Contractor, and have no formal qualifcations to make the following statements, I am going to step in the ants nest anyways armed with only observation, experience and common sense.

    Upon my return to Cayman about a year and a half ago, my wife and I were faced with getting our eldest son enrolled into a school. We with an open mind looked into all of the options, private and public.  We soon realized that because we are a one income family, (as my wife is the care giver for our youngest son who has Ceribral Palsy) and the private schools are well out of reach of a single income familiy like ours. So the choice of where to send our son got a lot easier.  Well, moving forward during the our time being involved with the school, and the PTA, it was stressed that the parents are the primary source for education, and rearing for the children, as the teachers only have very limited time with each child, and that parents are much more effective at solidifying the academics children learn in school by reinforcing it at home and the rearing of children is the sole responsibility of the parents.  This I totally understand, as me spending 20-30 min. every night with my son on his math and spelling has taken him from confusion to confidence. While our son was at the public school there was unfortunately a marked decline in his demeanor.  Our observations confirmed by his teachers showed that the poor behavior of the a great percentage of other children was a major hurdle that our son was having a tough time dealing with.  The lack of respect for other students, and further the teachers and staff was appalling.  We had meetings with the teachers, and time and time again they said that our son was not the problem, in fact if the other children were more like him their efforts would be spent on their core duty, and not parenting.  Their opinions were that the parenting at home was lacking greatly in the majority of cases.

    My point here is to say that the Government can dictate the one meal that the children eat at school is a "healthy" alternative, and that is a wonderful attempt.  However it is not going to change the candy bars they buy from the social clubs as they end their school day, it will not stop them from drinking 2,3 or 4 sodas between ending school and going to bed.  It will not stop the bowl of fruit loops for breakfast, it will not stop … I think you get the point.

    The health of Cayman’s children is in the hands of the parents!  As is the behavior patterns.

    We have a Catch 22 here in Cayman, as because Cayman has such a high cost of living, the majority of families here require both of the parents to work on a daily basis.  When you have a situation were both of the parents have to work, you have a compromise.  And typically that is with the care of the very children that they are trying to do well for in the first place.  Back in the day, when our Grandfathers and Fathers were to bread winners, our mothers (work) was at home, she made sure we ate well, our homework and chores were done. Dad "reinforced" mom’s ruling on the issues.  I for one do not believe being a "home maker" should be looked at being less important or noble than being a doctor or lawyer.  In fact to me it is one of the highest callings, as the "home maker" is the one that has to most effect on the adults of tomorrow.

    Here in Cayman we have created a society were:

    1) Cost of living prohibits single bread winner status

    2) Demeans the profession of "home maker"

    3) Enables our youth rather than empowering them.

    I used my son and his school as an example above, not to show pride on our son (although we are extremely proud).  But to show the possiblility that because my wife’s profession is a "home maker" our son is often looked apon as a well adjusted, respectful, considerate, honest and loving boy.  Because both my wife and I spend the majority of our time focused on our charter as parents, our family is solid, our children are healthy, and we are not relying on our Government to make our children into something we can not.

    Cayman needs to wake up and take responsibility for our actions, or inactions.  Our youth are losing their sense of direction and purpose, the sense of honor our forefathers had is almost unrecognizable.  It is not an easy thing to look at yourself and admit that you are the one that is letting your child down, you are the one that is responsible for the lack of respect, you are the one that is responsible for their weight.  I know, because I was a failing father, I still struggle daily, but I have accepted the truth that I am the one to blame for my childs outcome once they are grown and of their own opinions.

    I hope although sharp, and to the point that this will be taken with a sense of kindness.  As I am giving this point of view through the eyes of a father that has been on the edge of failing.

    God Bless

    Kent McTaggart

    • Me says:

      Well said Mr. McTaggart and I agree with you.  Good eating habits do start at home. However, I also believe that government’s ban on junk food at school is also much needed and I applaud it.

      If your child is taught at an early age to make healthy choices, then he/she may be less likely to go after that candy bar after school, bearing in mind that once in awhile may not be as harmful.

      Good eating starts at home but the school has to follow suit.

      I also understand the difficulties you face as a single income family but please bear in mind that there are many of us out there who don’t have that choice.  Some of us are one paycheck away from losing it all.  I am a single mother, I have one income and I HAVE to work.  My child cannot go to private school and I would love to be her stay at home parent but I don’t have that choice.  What I’m saying is, you are perfectly within your rights to complain about your situation, but remember there is always someone else out there who has it worse and would love to be where you are.

      • Kent says:

        As I do not know you, I can only say do not assume you know ones position by reading a couple paragraphs or relating a name wealth.   If you are in a position of being week to week, then you and I are sitting in the same position.  I fortunatley have been running on the efforts of my labor, and the good graces of some wonderful people that make life possible. 

        And you are 100% correct when you think you have it bad, all you have to do is look around and you will be reminded that life could be much worse!

        God Bless you and I pray that your positions will improve rapidly

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree Mr. Anglin about Children eating healthy at school because it will help them, but how can they eat healthy if the food is disgusting.  I am generally speaking about the food at West bay Primary School. The children complain about the food everyday, so if you’re going to consider healthy eating, maybe you need to consider the cooks as well. 

  6. The Linguist says:


    Nosotros no necestiamos la comida rapida en nuestras escuelas porque no queremos los niños de nuestra isla ser gordo. A quien le importa aqui? Ahora que el gobierno esta pensando mas inteligente, debemos ver mejora en las tasas de la obesidad. Ojala.



    We do not need fast good in our schools because we don’t want the children of our island to be fat! Who cares here? Now that Government is thinking smarter, we should see improvment in obesity rates? Hopefully.


  7. Hufflepuff says:

    Is this part of a long term strategy to improve our performance in Miss Universe after Jamaica’s recent close call?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sure, Cayman has a problem with obesity.

    Just look around.

    Is this caused by too much intake of the wrong kind of food, or is it caused by lack of exercise?

    George Orwell in his book ‘1984’ hada solution. Two way TV with the government on one end, and the citizen on the other.

    Every citizen had to stand before the TV while Big Brother watched the person do his exercises.

    Of course, that was an extreme police state, which no one in his right mind would want.

    So how about fining everyone whose weight is out of line with his height? If they want to remain obese, then let them compensate the State.






    • Anonymous Realist says:

      It’s difficult to tell how much irony was deliberate in this comment, but, all joking aside, there is a very fine line here.

      I have watched the "nanny states" on both sides of the Atlantic with interest, and have to remark that "fat people" have become a major target for those who have been forced to move on from despising certain groups of society having eroded their personal freedoms through campaigns based on hate, ridicule and hysteria, all backed up with spurious "facts".

      I’m not saying that we should not be concerned with health issues, but ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents and families to take care of their own, to educate and moderate and try to offer sound guidance in matters such as this.

      Now that they consider smokers, plainly an evil blight on society, as almost dealt with, there has to be a new group to vilify and "correct" – so, let’s make it fat people (this is multiple choice of course, the poor fat folk just happen to be the next evil dirty bastards on the list who are such a drain on the lives of all the decent upstanding members of society).

      Once the horrible obese people have been dealt with and taught the errors of their ways, and made to feel like criminals who bleed the health system dry, ruining it for all of the rest of us, we can find a new demon in our ranks… about people who drive SUV’s? Oops, sorry they are already on the hate list for having the temerity to drive something bigger than a shoebox and "wasting" gas. I guess those who enjoy a wee alcoholic beverage will soon be the next cause of various cancers and who must be "re-educated" in order to save us from them and them from themselves.

      Are you getting this yet folks?

      What on earth happened to treating people as people rather than judging them, berating them and virtually criminalizing them, blaming all societies ills on them,simply because we may not agree with their choices or the way they look, or what they choose to eat?

      I repeat this often on these boards, but where do you draw the line? Why do human beings feel the need to "go after" any particular group out of some sense of superiority and with such schadenfreude? And why, please tell me why, is the only answer to legislate, force more and more "rules" on people and interfere in their lives until they do indeed become state drones with no sense of individuality or sense of personal responsibility or choice?

      You are drawing ever closer to Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the future, and indeed, this kind of non-thinking will only bring it about that much more surely.

      Perhaps the vision of the future for your children is one of state control, blind obedience to state dogma, in a place where witch hunts are resurrected, neighbour spies on neighbour, children spy on parents, and schools fill up the heads of young people with a mantra of loyalty and mindless obedience to "those who know what’s best for us all".

      Please think about the bandwagons and the agendas of those who trot them out before jumping aboard, have a little human decency and tolerance is all I’m saying.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lol. only about 10 yrs too late when all the children have health issues already. dohhh

  10. Anonymous says:

    i guess we are all doing what we see on tv by doing this although we all know fried foods aren’t really good for any of us.  The bigger wuestion is, if it is all genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides and dyes, does it really matter whether the potato is boiled or fried?

    just a note, the corn and soybean that we eat kills the insects that eat it.


    food for thought.

  11. A Cayman Mom says:

    I think this is great news. I went to a parents meeting where a mom stood up to complain about vegetables being included in school meals, saying that it was "just a waste, as the kids don’t like ’em and they get thrown out anyway, so there’s no point in serving them."  When parents adopt this attitude, children are deprived of good health. Good eating has to start at home, but this is a great step for the schools. Well done.

  12. whodatis says:

    Good stuff!

    Kids … its for your own good – trust me (us).

    Do not get into the "American style" culture of eating junk food … you will save yourself a LOT of frustration, embarrassment, money, health concerns and broken hearts in the long run.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is a significant step forward if you ask me.  I hope they are also taking care to avoid transfats and other similar ingredients.

  14. Anonymous says:

    One question…are students still able to leave campus and go to Burger King?

    • The Magician says:

      Sixth form students at Prep and St. Ignatius are allowed to leave campus forlunch. This rule is being applied at public (gov’t) schools, so therefore does not affect Prep and Catholic. Not that it would be a bad idea….

  15. Anonymous says:

    Excellent move UDP!

  16. Anonymous says:

    AMEN!!! Thank you Minister Anglin and all those involved in bringing this to the schools. I cook healthy at home but when children can get crap food at school it cuts my legs out from under me as a parent.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hallelujah.  Long overdue

  18. Concerned Caymanian says:

    Please ban sugary sodas and artificial fruit juices as well. The obesity and diabetes epidemic confronting us is terrible and will cost us millions in healthcare costs and is literally killing us. The last thing government should be doung is encouraging the problem . Banning junk food is a start, but is not enough unfortunately. 

    • whodatis says:

      Re: "Please ban sugary sodas and artificial fruit juices as well."

      Great suggestion!!

      I read a report recently that a substantial percentage of our excessive calorie intake comes by way of beverages (sugar drink mixes, sodas, juice/drink concoctions).

      Back in high school Ms. Rockett pointed out to me that a can of coke contains over 8 TABLESPOONS of SUGAR!

      I have never been the same since.


      • Anonymous says:

        Parents need to look at apple juice, orange juice, grape juice etc., while healthy choices  they also are full of sugar. All juices can be diluted 50 – 50 with water.

        • noname says:

          The problem is that all the healthy stuff costs a fortune.  You can buy a Whopper Meal for $4 but you cannot buy fresh vegetables or a salad for that.  With the cost of living shooting through the roof, I can’t really see those families who are already battling to balance the cheque book, now forking out double the money for "healthy" drinks (bear in mind that fruit juice has almost, if not more, sugar than a soda).

          So let’s take the cost of fruit juice.  100% fruit juice (ie., Florida etc) is going to cost $6+ whereas the non-natural fruit juice is half the price or less (that would be that delightful pink colourant-filled and artificially sweetened fruit punch).  When a soda costs $1 and apple juice $2, if I was financially struggling, I know which I would choose …. 


          • whodatis says:

            Very true.

            When $ is low we all tend to bite the bullet and go with the most economical options – often neglecting the healthy (expensive) fruits and vegetables at the same time.

            This world is crazy today – by way of the system there is essentially a "tax" on healthy living.

            Contrast this with the high quality of foods my parents had growing up – and both of them come from poor backgrounds in the Caribbean – something just doesn’tadd up.

            Is mankind truly advancing today?

  19. Anonymous says:

    this is great news, a very positive test.

    just need to make sure the parents at home are providing healthy meals too!

  20. MonkeySee says:

    !!!!!! EXCELLENT NEWS !!!!!

    This by far is the best thing for us to be copying from the US & UK!!! 

    The kids may not love it but as parents, we should embrace it 100% in our own homes as well!  Lets all work towards getting Cayman’s kids fit!