PUTRAJAYA: National Service (NS) training camps will be given a 480-page nutritional guidebook which they will have to follow strictly.
The guidebook will be distributed from May.
Co-authored by the National Service Training Department and Health Ministry, the guidebook details the type of meals the 82 camps nationwide should serve trainees.
Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said the trainees will not eat the same food twice a month.
“The menu comes in a four-week cycle. So if you had a dish today, you will only see the same dish four weeks later,” he said at a press conference after the guidebook’s launch yesterday.
Abdul Hadi said the menu would give the trainees between 2,500 and 2,700 calories per day, suited to their constant physical exertions over the three-month training modules.
Besides recipes, the guidebook also contains descriptions of how to process food, store ingredients and maintain acceptable levels of culinary cleanliness.
He said the guidebook also aimed to prevent food poisoning in the camps and warned administrators that funding for meals would be cut if there was food poisoning among trainees.
“The payment for a single day’s meals will be deducted for the first offence. Three days’ payment will be deducted for the second offence,” he warned.
Abdul Hadi said Health Ministry officers would inspect the camps regularly to ensure that the camps adhered to the guidebook.
Deputy Health director-general (public health) Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman who launched the guidebook, said it was aimed at encouraging a cultural change among youngsters, particularly the trainees, to adopt balanced diets.
“12% of trainees are obese and 11.2% are underweight. So dietary specifications are important to ensure that they eat healthy and balanced meals,” he said.
Dr Lokman said the idea was to inculcate healthy eating habits among the NS trainees, which they will hopefully bring back home.
He said that each batch of NS trainees (140,000 yearly) represented a quarter of the country’s population born the same year and were ideal as “agents of change” of Malaysian’s eating culture.
On a separate issue, Abdul Hadi said the 2011 batch of NS trainees was the first to use the new January-March, May-August and September-December intake system.
He said the change was to help accommodate the January-March intake batch who were also awaiting their enrolment into public varsities which starts in March.