Online meal plan for schools launched in southern Vietnamese province

The software has lifted the ‘burden’ of designing daily menus on school teachers

Students at an elementary school in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City receive their lunch portions planned by the ‘Designing nutritionally balanced menus’ platform.

An online platform allowing schools to design nutritiously balanced meal plans for students was launched on Friday in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap.

The Dong Thap Department of Education and Training and Ajinomoto Vietnam co-organized a seminar to start applying a software program called ‘Designing nutritionally balanced menus’ in more than 40 elementary schools which offer day boarding services throughout the province.

The platform comprises pre-designed meal plans featuring delectable, nutritious dishes for use throughout the year.

The platform belongs to a ‘School Meal’ project, which is initiated by Ajinomoto Vietnam and jointly conducted by the National Nutrition Institute, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education and Training.

‘School Meal’ is intended to eradicate nutrition-related diseases and physical shortcomings among Vietnamese children and improve their stature by providing schools with balanced, diverse meal plans, and assisting schools in better managing the quality of their day boarding meals.

The software has been launched in 25 cities and provinces.

Speaking at the seminar, Dr. Ngu Duy Anh, head of the Student Affairs Bureau under the education ministry, stressed the country is fighting a two-front war in improving nutritious health of its younger generation, as children in rural areas have been suffering from malnutrition while those in the city are facing risks of obesity and related illnesses, including heart diseases and diabetes.

He put the worrying situation down to inadequate attention to kids’ diets both at home and at school.

“I highly appreciate the software, which is categorized by age group and region. Each category showcases dishes with appropriate nutritious values for that specific age group, using common ingredients of that region and fetching prices affordable to people in the given localities,” he observed.

“The platform not only provides schools and teachers with knowledge of nutrition but also encourages parents to use the suggested menus at home so as to ensure their children’s balanced nutrition and growth,” Dr. Anh noted.

According to Nguyen Thuy Ha, deputy director of the Dong Thap Department of Education and Training, the province currently has 41 schools that offer day boarding meals.

The institutions, however, have encountered difficulty designing menus, which has resulted in poor meals and a shrinking number of day boarding students toward the end of each academic year.

All schools across the locality have yet to recruit teachers specializing in nutrition, and thus pay scant attention to the quality of their students’ meals.

After listening to experts’ instructions on how to use the software, most participating teachers expressed their eagerness and even heaved a sigh of relief as they would no longer scratch their heads over what to prepare for the students each day.

Nguyen Van Trung, Ajinomoto Vietnam’s deputy director, said the company would send employees to schools to show the staff there more meticulously how to put the platform into use and offer them counseling on the proper layout and operation of the kitchens.

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