Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron on Monday kicked off a food safety campaign, which urges principals across the Kingdom to ensure that food served in cafeterias are safe, nutritious and of good quality.
Chuon Naron launched the campaign at the Preah Norodom Primary School in the capital’s Daun Penh district.
Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said on Monday that the campaign was meant to raise awareness among relevant stakeholders such as school committees, headmasters, and cafeteria vendors and encourage them to provide healthy and clean food to students.
He said the ministry recently issued a directive which bans the selling of six kinds of food at all private and state schools.
Among those that are banned is food that had expired, alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, food with unknown sources of origin, energy drinks and food and beverages with high sugar content.
“We expect to drive this campaign to food vendors. We want to make them care more about health and hygiene and inform them of the kinds of food that should not be sold to students, especially to young children,” said Soveacha.
He noted that the campaign had been positively received by parents and some private companies.
The campaign will be extended this month to primary schools of Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Preah Sihanouk and Kandal provinces.
Unicef deputy representative Natascha Paddison commended the ministry’s latest campaign, saying that good nutrition is essential to a child’s survival, health and development.
Well-nourished children, said Paddison, enjoyed better health and an improved ability to learn and contribute to their communities.
“To build a healthy food environment for all children, we need to work together to mobilise supportive systems, such as health, water and sanitation, education and social protection – to scale up nutritional results for all children,” she said.
She said this year, Unicef will collaborate with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to improve nutrition for school children by strengthening links between health centres and community pre-schools, and promote healthy eating habits among children and adolescents.
“Apart from food safety, physical safety must also be observed to ensure students are safe from accidents. The ministry pays high attention to the quality of students’ learning environment.
“We urge officials at provincial departments and district offices, and especially school principals, to regularly assess the quality of school buildings so as not to put their students at physical risk,” said Chuon Naron.
Soveacha said the ministry is working on repairing 39 school buildings in 19 provinces, supported by a budget of $1.7 million.
In total, the country has 13,000 public schools.
“The ministry receives about $4.4 million from the Ministry of Economy and Finance each year to repair schools and build new ones. This figure does not include donations from the Prime Minister and other development partners,” Soveacha said.