With the new academic year just a month away, parents of school children in south Mumbai are grappling with a novel problem.
Several convent schools in south Mumbai have decided to ban the entry of dabbawalas into schools from now on. The ubiquitous dabbawala has been delivering lunch boxes to office goers and school children in the city for the past many decades. The dabbawala, feted by many institutions, has also championed several causes in Mumbai - be it asking citizens to step out and vote in the elections or promoting citizen awareness about saving the fragile Aarey ecosystem.
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Now, however, the dabbawala stands outlawed from school premises in south Mumbai. Many parents, unable to pack lunch boxes at 7 am when most schools begin their sessions, rely on the dabbawala to get nutritious food to their children at lunch time. The state government's recent mandate to ban the sale of junk food in canteens in educational institutions means that children can no longer snack on their favourite dishes at these places as well.
The dabbawalas, on their part, have decided to plead their case with education minister Vinod Tawde, says Mumbai Dabbawala Association spokesperson Subhash Talekar.