Free-breakfast programme at school needs proper implementation — Senator

MIRI: Generally, parents laud the move by the Ministry of Education to provide free breakfast to primary school-children all over Malaysia, beginning next year.

Senator Alan Ling

Benefitting pupils from poor families and encouraging those to come to school on time are among the objectives of the programme.

However, there is a concern by some that the children may not like the food serve and in turn, this could lead to food wastage.

In this regard, Senator Alan Ling views the free breakfast programme as an initiative with good intention, but he also believes that there should be a proper and thorough mechanism to be implemented so that it would not incur wastage – both in terms of food and government’s funding.

Moreover, he believes that the parents or legal guardians must be consulted when it comes to the menu, as it is understandable that some children may have specific dietary needs or restrictions.

“They (school-children with specific dietary needs or restrictions) can opt out from the programme to prevent wastage.

“Still, one of the main objectives is to promote balanced, nutritious food to young children, which is vital for their overall growth. The menu must be prepared through consultation with health personnel and nutritional experts,” he said in a statement.

Ling said he was made to understand that the ministry had been conducting the free-breakfast pioneer project at several selected schools since August this year, and would conclude next month.

“The result from this pioneer project will be deliberated upon to formulate the best approach to implement the scheme effectively and comprehensively,” he said.

The senator also acknowledged the upcoming formation of a special committee that would discuss in details the budget for the programme before its roll-out next year.

“I believe that should more time is needed to formulate this programme, then the extension may be granted as it involves effective and efficient delivery to the pupils, and also that the operators or canteens in charge may need to undergo training or to fulfil certain compliance criteria to ensure food safety.

“The scheme is expected to benefit 2.7 million pupils in government and government-aided primary schools. The Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led government will ensure that no one is neglected, especially the rural school-children,” said Ling, who is also PH Sarawak secretary.

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