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Research has shown that children acquire food preferences during childhood and are more resistant in changing their eating habit once they reach their teenage years.
Parents should practice good eating habits with their children even before they start school. But since most students consume at least one meal or a snack in the canteen on most days of the week, the school environment thus plays an important role in nurturing and sustaining good eating habit. As such, the Health Promotion Board (HPB), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) started the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme (HMSP) to ensure that healthier food and beverage options are readily available. This integrated programme involves teachers, canteen vendors and students.
What are the four food groups?
Canteen vendors from participating schools are expected to follow the food service guidelines and cut down fat, sugar and salt, and serve meals that must include food from the four main food groups — brown rice and wholemeal bread, meat and others, vegetables and fruit — to ensure students get the right nutrients necessary for their growing needs.
Schools are encouraged to monitor the food and beverages sold and to ensure that canteen operators comply with the guidelines. Participating schools are assessed by HPB-appointed nutritionists/dietitians. Schools that do not meet the HMSP guidelines are provided with guidance on how they can prepare their food more healthily.
Activities to promote good eating habits
Besides assessing the food and beverages sold in schools, HPB will support participating schools by:
• Organising culinary training for the canteen vendors to equip them with knowledge of healthy nutrition and culinary skills to prepare healthier meals using healthier ingredients.
• Conducting briefings for the School Canteen Committee to guide them in monitoring the food sold in schools.
• Providing educational resources that encourage students to eat healthily.
To register for the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme (HMSP) or for more information, e-mail Eugene Heng at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6435-3200.
This article is courtesy of Health Promotion Board.