ALOR STAR: Initiated and sponsored by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Bernas, with the cooperation of the Education and Health ministries, launched the Healthy Meals Programme (Promak) “Riang Ria Nutri” at Albukhary International University (AIU) here yesterday.
The launch was officiated by Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek in the presence of Bernas chairman Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, chief executive officer Zulkiflee Abdul Rahman, and Albukhary Foundation advisor Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Shahar.
Under the Promak programme, Bernas will provide a very good lunch for around 20,000 pupils from 93 selected schools in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Terengganu for a period of 5 years, with the aim of eradicating malnutrition among schoolchildren as well as increasing school attendance and performance.
Fadhlina Sidek said in her speech that malnutrition has an adverse impact on access to education and the student’s attendance rate; hence, it requires an effective intervention.
“Programmes like Promak are not only addressing malnutrition issues among students, but they also help improve the attendance rate,’’ she said.
In an interview with Malaysia World News, the Head of the Corporate Communication Department at Bernas, Rozita Ahmed, said that a recent assessment carried out by Bernas on 45 schools that benefited from Promak in Kedah showed that the percentage of students’ attendance has increased dramatically by more than 5% since Bernas started to serve students a nice lunch for free. The enrollments at these schools that provide good meals to students have increased as well.
“We are offering free meals and nutritious meals at lunchtime to underprivileged students from B40 families at more than 93 schools around 4 states, mainly Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Terengganu.
“This donation or programme is really helping not only thousands of students to eat well, but also reducing the worry and burden of their poor parents, who are too poor to offer them good meals daily,” she said, adding that previously many kids were forced to leave or drop out of school due to a lack of food at home.
“Sometimes many pupils cannot afford to come back to school after lunchtime. They used to go back to their homes for lunch, but many of them would not come back to attend afternoon classes because their parents could not afford to send them back to school,” said Rozita.
She added that when these B40 students go to have lunch in their houses, they do not have good, healthy meals. This affects not only their school attendance but also their health. Some of them either become obese or physically short. They cannot have a healthy mind and a healthy, fit body because they eat very unhealthy food that lacks the necessary vitamins and proteins.
“With this programme that is sponsored by Bernas, parents now don’t have to worry about their kids’ lunch every day.
“The programme has started since January last year and will extend for 5 years until 2026.
“The value of lunch for each student is RM6. The school canteens are in charge of all the cooking and operation, but we and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education will monitor the food menu and also control the hygiene of the school kitchens to ensure quality, healthy food is being served to the students,” added Rozita.
Malaysian World News