The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), represented by the Health Promotion Department, has recently launched the 'School Lunchbox' program.
The program, which runs from 22 August to 9 September, is part of the 'Back-to-school' campaign and includes several innovative awareness activities that aim to provide parents with the necessary skills to prepare their kids' lunchboxes and encourage them to eat healthy foods and avoid calorie-rich ones.
The program involves a set of educational activities aimed at raising mothers' awareness about the proper ways to prepare the lunch box, in addition to virtual culinary courses to inform community members about the healthy ingredients of the school lunchbox and ways of its storage.
It also includes a live cooking show on how to prepare snacks and healthy meals, in addition to handing out recipe booklets, and lunch box packing tips at the shopping malls across the country.
Furthermore, the Ministry will publish awareness-raising messages on its social media platforms to help individuals make smart choices about the healthy nutritional value of their children's school lunch bag.
Also, an interactive electronic competition will be organized, in cooperation with the 'Apparel Group', with the aim to encourage community members to prepare and try the perfect recipes for the school box, where 200 boxes will be distributed at shopping centers, specifically in HEMA and the Children's Place stores.
Each box contains the recipe that must be prepared, measuring tools and a recipe booklet.
The launch of the 'School lunch box' program is part of the ministry's ongoing efforts to organize awareness programs aimed at promoting preventive behaviors and sound practices among the children, said HE Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector.
This falls within MoHAP's keenness to raise healthy and active generations, provide mental and physical safety, and enhance healthcare levels according to the best international practices, he added.
Al Rand noted that the program falls within the national initiative 'Promoting healthy lifestyles awareness in society, with the importance of consolidating the preventive aspect and reducing lifestyle-related diseases.
National plan to combat childhood obesity
Al Rand underlined that the prevention of childhood obesity is a national priority, highlighting the efforts being made by the ministry to support the objectives of the national plan to combat childhood obesity and achieve the national strategy to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children, within the framework of a responsive and sustainable healthcare system that aims to enhance its primary role in the prevention of obesity-related disease.
Obesity is one of the leading factors of non-communicable disease, which has become one of the global health challenges in the past years, noted Al Rand, stressing that the prevalence of obesity hampers development efforts, reduces the quality of life in society, and increases the financial burden borne by health care systems.
Providing healthy food for students
For her part, Nouf Khamis Al Ali, Deputy Director, Health Promotion Department, said "The school lunch bag is an essential part of a child's diet and is also considered one of the main reasons that could pose a threat to children with obesity, through the wrong choices of the quality of diets provided by the parents.
Hence the importance of this program that aims to raise the community’s awareness about the need to provide healthy food for school students, build the capacity of the community to adopt healthy lifestyles and equip them with the necessary skills, create a health-supportive environment, and engage community bodies and institutions in health promotion programs.
She pointed out that a school lunch box recipes booklet was developed by a specialized team in the ministry, with 20 local and international recipes, while taking into account speed of preparing them and views of families from various nationalities and cultures in the country.
In turn, Sima Ganwani Ved, Founder and President of the Apparel Group, said: "We are glad to team up with MoHAP to organize events that raise community members' awareness about adopting healthy lifestyles and highlight the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle for children.
He pointed out that Apparel Group is set to organize a competition to promote a culture of healthy food by providing parents with healthy recipes and appropriate food alternatives that will help them prepare a healthy school lunch box for their kids.