Need to consider perspectives on Free School Breakfast

KUALA LUMPUR– The free breakfast for pupils should be balanced, nutritious, and halal, taking into account racial sensitivities of those not eating meat and being sensitive to food allergies.

These are among the many reactions received from the public since the announcement of the Free Breakfast Programme (FBP) yesterday by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

SK Setiawangsa Parent-Teacher Association chairman Shahpandi Abdul Manan, who welcomed the ministry’s proposal at the same time, gave suggestions to fine-tune the programme to enhance the impact of implementation.

Overall, the PTA welcomes the proposal, an initiative to provide a healthy diet for pupils. Indirectly, it instills good manners and morals, educates and disciplines pupils as well as promotes racial interaction.

The FBP also helps the less fortunate who may have to skip breakfast every day, he said.

Shahpandi said issues like ‘picky eaters’ especially among Year One pupils, should be taken into consideration besides providing a meal of choice for those who may not like the breakfast provided or who are allergic to certain food.

Meanwhile, a MINNALfm radio caller known only as Kennedy hoped the free breakfast contains a balanced nutritional composition and avoids excessive use of sugar.

There’ is an alarming rise in diabetes among Malaysians. It is important to avoid all kinds of unhealthy eating habits early on, he said in an interview on the radio programme ‘Kaalai Kathir’ this morning.

A netizen on Facebook by the name of Zam Hairul said: Alhamdulillah, this programme is a relief for poor parents. If there are pupils living in poverty who eat chicken skin every day, Allahhuakhbar, after this they don’t have to anymore.

See Mei, who is also a netizen, said, the objectives and intention of this free breakfast programme are good. But some pupils are picky eaters, they may choose to buy from the canteen, or some may prefer to bring from home, hence every school should have a list of students who wish to have this free breakfast so as to order the quantity accordingly to avoid food waste.

Maszlee in a post on his Facebook page said free breakfast will be served to children in primary schools throughout the country from January next year

Our children need a precise eating schedule and balanced eating habits to ensure that they continue to stay healthy and active, while they stay focused in their studies every day, he said.

Earlier today, he also uploaded a photo with input on common questions about the FBP, including implementation time, financial allocation and how it would be managed.

According to Maszlee, FBP will use the existing Supplementary Food Programme management method and this breakfast will be provided by the canteen operators at each of the schools involved.

The FBP will be carried out for 30 minutes, between 7 am and 8.30 am for the morning session and between 12 noon and 4 pm for afternoon session schools.

“The FBP menu is being determined via discussions with the Health Ministry and nutrition experts at several local universities, he said on his official Facebook page, Dr Maszlee Malik (https://www.facebook.com/DrMaszleeMalik/)

Meanwhile, spaghetti, sandwich and oats are among the simple, easy and nutritious foods which may be included in the FBP menu.

Senior lecturer at the Centre of Nutrition and Dietetics University Technology Mara, Dr Norazmir Md Nor said the food which is based on complex carbohydrates is important in supplying energy to the students, especially in the early morning in order for them to focus in the classroom.

The menu is available in the ‘Grab and Go’ concept where students only need to collect the food in one place like in the canteen and can eat it either in the classroom or in the canteen, he said when contacted by Bernama..

As for water, he suggested that only plain water be provided to students to educate them from an early age to reduce their sugar intake.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)