Food for thought on breakfast plan

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry should work together with the Health Ministry in producing menus to guide schools and canteen operators on what types of food are suitable for the children.

“It needs to carry out checks on a monthly basis to ensure that schools are serving the right food to the children,” added SK Taman Megah Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairman Rodney Yeoh.

He welcomed the announcement by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik that the ministry has plans to provide a nutritious breakfast scheme for the B40 group.

B40 refers to the bottom 40% of households with a monthly income of RM3,900 and below.

Dr Maszlee said this was the result of his three-hour-long visit on Monday to Itabashi Daiichi Elementary School, a public school in Tokyo, which allowed him to see first-hand Japan’s education methods which produce youngsters with good character.

SMK Assunta Petaling Jaya PTA chairman Alan Goh said he fully supported the implementation of the scheme.

“It means a lot to the children,” he added.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said he hopes the scheme would be extended to both primary and secondary schools, but noted that it will not be an easy task to implement and sustain the scheme.

“What if the children do not like the food?

“We can’t force them to eat and would the children have enough time to eat if they are late?” he said.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said the union supports any move that ensures nutritious food for the children to equip them for the hours spent at school.

“Nutritious food is the foundation for all. Parents who are rushing off to work may find it hard to provide nutritious food for their school-going children,” he noted.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, who is a member of the National Education Advisory Council, said the ministry needs to ensure the breakfast provided is fresh and balanced.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but nasi lemak and mee goreng should not be on the menu,” she said.

The ministry, she added, needs to iron out any problems in the ongoing supplementary food programme (RMT) that was introduced by the ministry in 1979.

“This is to ensure that these same problems do not affect the nutritious breakfast scheme when it is introduced later,” she said.

Under the programme supplementary food, the ministry gave RM2.50 per day to students in Peninsular Malaysia and RM3 per day for students in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.