Many schools in Mumbai, mainly South Mumbai have banned dabbawallas from entering the premises of the school and delivering tiffin to the students. They consider them to be a security threat. Some parents are unsure about the decision as they fear that their child’s health is going to be affected by the outside food and sharing food that doesn’t suit their taste and religious ideologies.
Raghunath Medge the member of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers which is the main union of dabbawallas’ said to TOI, “Approximately 50% of all schools across the city, mainly convents, have stopped dabbawallas’ entry. At one time, we were supplying one lakh tiffin to schools. That number has now dropped to 20,000.”
The number has been gradually falling since the last two years but this year it witnessed a drastic drop which leads to resentment in the dabbawalla community. The president of the Mumbai Dabbawalla Association released a press note in which he allegedly explained the motive behind the ban.
“On the one hand, schools are banning junk food while on the other, discouraging children from eating healthy, home-cooked meals. They are forcing students to buy food from the school canteen just as they once forced them to buy books, shoes and uniforms from the school or from retailers appointed by the school,” Talekar said, reported TOI. According to Megde and Telekar, the ban is nothing but a money making scam by the canteen contractors and the schools.
On the other hand, a principal of a convent school said, “We have canteen services within the school where we serve healthy and hygienic food. Also, our school hours are over by afternoon so that students can return home for lunch time and they do not have to depend on dabbawallas for food.”
Considering the concerns raised by both the schools and the dabbawalla association, the chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis has directed the police commissioner to organize a joint meeting and find a solution.