Healthier meals for school children
No more pack lunches! No more worries about your child eating junk food and developing unhealthy eating habits in school.
The Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) launched a new initiative on 1 July to ensure our school children are eating healthily in school. This is great news for all parents who are worried about what their kids eat in school!
According to research by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), only 25 per cent of children aged seven to 12 years in Singapore are served the recommended servings of vegetable and fruit daily. Last year, then Minister of State for Education Masagos Zulkifli revealed in a speech that 9.7 per cent of primary, secondary and junior college students here were obese.
So to inculcate healthy eating habits from young, it has partnered with Wellington Primary School to launch “Healthy Set Meals”. The primary school in the Sembawang area will serve bento-styled set meals with the right portions from the four main food groups – carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables – to the 1,500 students.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor who was the Guest-of-Honour at the launch, said: “We encourage more schools to join in this programme and aim to roll it out to ideally all schools. There are a lot of benefits for the students where they are likely to carry into adulthood tackling obesity related problems which are a growing concern as we become more affluent.
“But this is not just about educating them. Because the meals contain right portions from the four main food groups, whatever they pick, they are consuming a healthy and balanced diet.”
HPB chief executive Ang Hak Seng emphasised the need to target the young in the battle against obesity. ‘Inculcating good eating habits at a young age increases the chance of children adopting well-balanced dietary practices in their adult life,’ he said.
‘We have targeted the school environment to influence the eating behaviour of schoolchildren as they consume at least one to two meals per day in school canteens.’
The set meals were redesigned by HPB dieticians who trained the canteen vendors on healthier cooking methods, ways to include healthier ingredients such as brown rice and the right portion sizing for children. Chefs were also engaged by HPB who were tasked to make the meals look attractive and tasty.
Student Daniel Ling, 11, who was chomping down a bowl of miso noodles soup with chicken, said: “It’s very tasty and very healthy. It’s nutritious and I like it very much.”
The new canteen menu – each of the five stalls serves two types of set meals – is changed daily to ensure variety and for vendor Mdm Amrina, she said “prices are almost the same as previously.
“But we now have three serving sizes – small, medium and large, just that they are priced differently. Last time, spaghetti was 80 cents. Now it’s still 80 cents but for small size.”
Parents like Mrs Tay welcome such efforts. She said: “At home, we cook healthy food and don’t allow too much of fried food. We couldn’t control that when she’s (my daughter) in school but now the school is helping us do that, which is very good.”
While it has not been easy to convince the students to start eating vegetables, Mrs Fatimah Frauder, Wellington Primary School’s head of department for physical education and aesthetics said: “Through health education lessons and reinforcing the messages, hopefully the students will bring it back home and ask for the same thing.”
Sources: Straits Times and Channel News Asia.
Share with us if your child’s primary school is also adopting the same measures.