Cafeteria, also known as canteen, is a place where students take their snacks and lunch and it is also a united place for them to socialize and spend quality time with their friends. According to American Occupational Therapy Association (2013), “lunch should be an enjoyable part of the school day for students, offering a break from classroom work and a place to unwind, de-stress, socialize, and become nourished and that mealtimes in the cafeteria can also be a way of promoting and encouraging children to eat and try new healthy foods (AOTA, 2013).
Hanumante (2011), An Indian researcher, has stated that a cafeteria or canteen is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant or within an institution such as a large office building or school. And according to Denizcbs in 2009, Schools are encouraged to implement comprehensive health and well-being programs, including food and nutrition education. However, there is growing concern that junk food availability in schools has contributed to the childhood obesity epidemic (Datar and Nicosia, 2012).
“Junk Food” is a term used here to denote the food that is considered unhealthy and inhibitive of children’s cognitive processing, which in turn affects academic performance (Rausch, 2013). Halterman et al. (n.d), points out that while there has been research done to show the effects of anemia on cognitive capabilities and academic performance, they think that low level of iron levels preceding the diagnosis of anemia can also have an important cognitive effect.
Erikson (n.d) also noted that certain fats are necessary, such as Omega-3, in order to keep the brain well-nourished and stave off feelings of depression and inflammation, and increase memory and mood with an increase in serotonin, which is also known for creating the feeling of pleasure.
Food from fast-food outlets was high in fat, saturated fat and salt (Caraher, Madelin, and Lloyd, 2014). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In total, close to 34% of children and adolescents from ages two to 19 ate fast food on a given day. Pietrangelo and Carey and Holland (2018), therefore stated that there are 13 effects that fast food causes. These are headache, depression, acne, dental distress, heart disease or stroke, shortness of breath, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight gain, extra calories, blood sugar spike, bloating, and insulin resistance. Despite some supposed undesirable effects of fast food products to its consumers’ bodies, people are assumed to have a tendency to ignore these warnings as manifested by the continuously growing number of fast food consumers and restaurants such as Jollibee, a well-known fast food chain in the country (Lucero, J.F.B. 2011).
The students are the ones who benefit in cafeterias; not only them, but it also includes the staff and visitors of the campus. In most cases, they are the ones who get affected in every excellent and poor performances of the system of the cafeteria. According to Kai-Sean Lee (2018), “poor ambiance, lack of staff, pricing, poor food choices, and low food quality” are a few of the grievance of most of the students in a school’s cafeteria. Croll and et al., (2001) and Sztainer and et al., (1999) mentioned hunger, food craving and cost in addition to “parental influence on eating behaviors (including the culture or religion of the family), benefits of foods (including health), situation-specific factors, mood, body image, habit, media, time considerations of adolescents and parents and food availability” were effective factors on food choices and eating behaviors. Moreover, schools’ cafeterias play a vital role in the overall satisfaction of the students towards the school.
In terms of school meals, countries all over the world have various kinds of school meal programs. In USA, during the 2012–2013 school year, more than 30 million students participated in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report in 2015. A number of recent studies have shown that providing (potentially) hungry kids with greater access to food through the National School Lunch Program can lead to improved test scores (Elsevier B.V., 2015). By providing healthy lunches, schools can help their students perform better in the classroom and improve their overall health (Anderson, 2017). In Sweden, school meals that are free of charge and financed by taxes have been served to children for over 60 years (Gullberg, 2004).
As children spent more time at school, the responsibility for feeding children shifted from the family to the schools (Trubek, 2012). Children’s eating is thus the responsibility of both home and school (Osowski, 2012). School meals were also introduced as a way to curb bad eating habits and malnutrition by serving nutritious meals (Osowski, 2012). Thus, school was not only supposed to teach children and provide them with knowledge, but also foster healthy citizens, making the upbringing of children a responsibility not just for parents, but for society as a whole (Gullberg, 2006).