Young children who attend child care centres spend a major part of their day there while their parents are at work. For these children, child care centres play an important role in shaping their food habits.
Research shows that children form food preferences mostly during their pre-school years, and the eating habits are more difficult to change later on in life. Pre-schoolers are ready and eager learners, and this allows pre-schools the opportunity to cultivate healthy eating habits.
In view of this, the Healthy Meals in Pre-schools Programme seeks to introduce healthy meals to pre-schoolers and shape their food preferences at an early age. Under this programme, participating pre-schools need to follow food service guidelines. These include:
- cutting down fat, sugar and salt
- serving whole grains, fruit and vegetables
- serving healthy set meals.
These meals incorporate food from the four main food groups – brown rice and wholemeal bread, meat and others, vegetable and fruits. These help students receive the appropriate nutrients necessary for their growing needs.
The programme provide culinary training, consultations and assessments for participating pre-schools. During the culinary training workshops, we advise the precooks and supervisors on the following:
- menu planning and healthier cooking methods
- using healthier ingredients such as brown rice
- appropriate portioning of food for children.
Participating pre-schools are evaluated by assessors commissioned by HPB. Pre-schools which meet the guidelines will be certified and listed on HPB’s website for easy reference by the public.
HPB has developed a recipe book for child care centres called “Healthilicious Easy-to-prepare Dishes with a Healthier Twist for Children”. This book has easy-to-follow healthy recipes which children can enjoy. Child care centres may choose to implement these recipes within their menus to ensure that they provide their children with innovatively, healthy meals. This guide also includes information about menu planning and preparation tips for chefs.
Health Promotion Board