Standardizing the school meal: A model of social responsibility share

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 Leaders of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training, and Ajinomoto Vietnam Company present standard menus to the representatives of schools in HCMC

For a long time, a matter that is paid much attention now is the quality of lunch and snack for primary school pupils. According to statistics from HCMC Education and Training Department, among 474 primary schools in HCMC there are 358 boarding schools. There are totally 213,596 pupils having lunch at schools with lots of them facing nutrition problems like overweight, obesity, malnutrition; micronutrient deficiency including iron, iodine, vitamin A and have inappropriate nutrition habits like preferring protein, lipid while rarely eating vegetables and fruits. Many meals at boarding primary schools in HCMC have not been diverse with just rice, a main dish and a soup.

Since 2012, Ajinomoto Vietnam Company has proactively cooperated with HCMC Education and Training Department to deploy the School Meal Project in HCMC, with the nutrition consultancy from HCMC Nutrition Center. The project's objective is to build the standard menus set for pupils of boarding primary schools; making a contribution to improve the awareness, physique and physical strength of boarding primary pupils in HCMC.

This in an activity of the School Meal Project deployed to contributing in improving the nutrition, the awareness, physique and physical strength of boarding primary pupils in HCMC, with three main contents of building reasonable nutrition via the improvement of the standard menu set which are nutritionally balanced, helping pupils develop completely in mental and physical aspects; educating nutrition awareness for pupils through the program "Three minutes to change awareness"; and standardizing the kitchen and dining area in combination with the education for self-serving awareness in pupils.

For more than 1 year since the project launching, Ajinomoto Vietnam Company and relevant parties have studied and developed 40 standard menu sets for boarding primary schools. These menus have been tested, piloted and improved many times at different schools to make sure that they are closer to reality. After many testing and pilot times, on August 20th, the standard menu sets for boarding primary schools was officially announced. Representatives of HCMC Education and Training Department claimed that, this project is a gift that the organization board gives to primary pupils. Moreover, this is not only a gift but also a cultural work of brainpower.

As known, in order to have the delicious and nutrition-balanced menu sets that are suitable for primary pupils, the 3 organizations have carried out research, pilot and implementation under close coordination and well management. Along with the full package financial investment for the project, Ajinomoto Vietnam Company is also positively involved from preliminary studies about meals and nutrition requirement of pupils to the establishment of nutrition-balanced menus and the adjustment of these menus. It goes along with the cautious academic consultancy from leaders and experts of HCMC Nutrition Center and the strategic vision through the tight and close direction of leaders from HCMC Education and Training Department during the process.

It can be said this is a brand new model in social contribution of companies and authorities, in which, governmental organizations could take advantage of not only finance but also human resources and intelligence of other organizations to serve the society. This model needs to be duplicated in the future. The society also should acknowledge organization's contribution to encourage them in proactively contributing more to the community.

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