Healthy Eating Habits Begin at My First Skool’s Professional Kitchen
Serving 1,065 children and 220 staff daily, The Tasty Kitchen at My First Skool @ 2 Punggol Drive is the first in-house commercial kitchen in a Large Childcare Centre in Singapore! This fully-equipped professional kitchen was established to prepare nutritional, appealing and delicious meals to promote healthy eating habits in their preschoolers.
In Singapore, one in 10 five-year-olds is overweight. Research by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) showed that 70% of children who were overweight remained overweight as adults. This means that being obese as a child may already be setting the stage for future health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
My First Skool introduced healthy eating at all their preschool centres. With menus carefully planned and designed by a group of dieticians and nutritionists, the recipes in My First Skool’s menus are approved by the HPB to ensure that the children are eating healthy and nutritious meals beneficial to their growth and development.
PREPARING MEALS WITH LOVE AND DEDICATION
Helmed by Head Chef Bernard Lim and his team of experienced chefs, The Tasty Kitchen is where each meal is thoughtfully and professionally served.
Chef Bernard and his team of chefs from The Tasty Kitchen
The three meals served to children daily are prepared with fresh ingredients purchased from local suppliers and stored at the right temperature and moisture level to retain its nutrients and colour. Chef Bernard and his team believe in the importance of the 3Rs.
“Firstly, to reduce the amount of water used in cooking; secondly, to reduce the cooking time to retain the nutrients in the cooked food; and lastly, to reduce the surface area in which food is exposed to during preparation, cooking and serving,” Chef Bernard shares.
For lunch, the chef ensures that each child consumes the recommended portion of different food groups - a portion of mixed grain rice or wholemeal noodles, a portion of meat (either fish or chicken), as well as a portion of vegetables and sliced fruit. The kitchen also caters to children with special dietary needs and food allergies. They even have the list of children with special diets displayed on the kitchen wall.
The professional kitchen is complete with automated state-of-the-art equipment to efficiently wash the cutlery and cooking utensils efficiently every day. Cutleries are washed in a dishwasher that cleans approximately 25 cups, 50 plates and 100 forks and spoons at any one time in three to six minutes!
“Having an in-house professional kitchen and a team of chefs who can operate different automated cooking equipment is definitely a value add to our centre. It helps to shorten the food preparation time, without compromising the consistency of the taste and quality of the food.” – Ms Jean Wan, English Lead Teacher
Ms Jean Wan, English Lead Teacher
PRESCHOOLERS LOVE THEIR HEALTHY PLATES!
The freshly cooked meals prepared at The Tasty Kitchen have been well-received by staff and preschoolers alike. With Pasta day on Fridays, it is no surprise that children want to ask for second helpings! Chef Bernard shares that it is important to include ethnic cuisines in the menu to provide children with the opportunity to enjoy different tastes, while learning about diverse culture and ethnicity.
“It is important that children are given a balanced diet, with the right nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. I personally believe that good healthy food has positive effects on children’s learning and development. When children eat well, they do well.” – Ms Ainul Farhana Mohd, Executive Principal
Ms Ainul Farhana Mohd, Executive Principal
With regular updates from preschool teachers, parents are kept informed of their children’s healthy diets in school. Some parents even requested for the recipes of these appetizing meals, in an attempt to whip up similar nutritious dishes for their family. Chef Bernard shared that his team is looking into in-centre Cooking Workshops for parents to support extended healthy eating habits at home.
Mr Allen Koh and his daughter, Rae
“I am pleased with the diverse menu, offering a variety of food from various cuisines. This will definitely influence my child's food preferences and eating habits in a positive manner.” – Mr Allen Koh, Father of Koh En, Rae
Mr Yuzaimi and his daughter, Laiqa
“(I am) very appreciative that such (nutritious) meals are being served in preschool. My daughter is now having more vegetables on her plate out of her own accord!” – Parent, Mr Yuzaimi, Father of Laiqa Kirana
MORE THAN JUST NUTRITIOUS AND TASTY MEALS
Apart from having healthy meals and learning food vocabulary, preschoolers also learn basic hygiene and table manners, self-help skills and important values. At the dining area, preschoolers would clean their hands before taking their own food from the serving counter. When everyone is ready, they will sing a mealtime song in appreciation of the people who have prepared their meals.
Mr Lee, with his daughter Chloe
“My child usually has more than one serving per meal in school. I also observe that my child can now feed herself using the fork and a spoon, and drink from a cup independently.” - Mr Lee, Father of Chloe Lee
Preschool teachers also play an important role in inculcating healthy eating habits in their children by sharing the benefits of eating and finishing up the meal for a balanced diet. Healthy eating habits are integrated in the curriculum, when children learn to sort out pictures of healthy and unhealthy food, and even make a fruit and vegetable salad in class.
Apart from nutritious meals, My First Skool @ 2 Punggol Drive also ensures regular exercise and outdoor play for their preschoolers. The Early Years Centre schedules 30 minutes to an hour of outdoor activity at one of their five outdoor learning zones: the Water Play Zone, the Forest Zone, the Mountain Zone, the Land Zone and the Great Outdoor Zone. Through play, the children get to exercise their gross motor skills, locomotor skills and problem solving skills, while increasing their strength, endurance and flexibility.
It truly takes a village to raise healthy and happy children. With a professional kitchen and good outdoor facilities, it is no wonder the children of My First Skool @ 2 Punggol Drive love to attend school and enjoy their meals with bright smiles on their faces.
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