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Dubai: Dubai Municipality has launched its ‘Promoting Healthy Nutrition in Educational Institutions’ initiative, to help educational institutions across Dubai to change their approach to school meals, offering students with proper food options in canteens and cafeterias. The initiative aims to reach over 300,000 students in schools across the emirate.

The initiative is designed by integrating a learning management and empowerment system for school students. In addition, it focuses on food suppliers and school departments or administrations.

The system offers a comprehensive digital learning experience that is accessible from anywhere. It comprises e-content on nutrition, food safety and sustainable consumption along with interactive games and tools to evaluate learning progress. These tools can be used by teachers to educate students as well as staff of food companies. In 2024, Dubai Municipality will provide a specialised training course for users in order ensure that schools can use these systems efficiently.

'Re-evaluating' the menu

Nutritionists will collaborate with these institutions to re-evaluate their food offerings. This move is aimed at prioritising nutrient-dense food that supports both physical and cognitive development of children and young people by including a wide array of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources with lower saturated fat, and other products that offer students with required vitamins and minerals.

Sultan Al Taher, Director of Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality, said: “The initiative is a proactive move for educational institutions, as it promotes the adoption of sustainable and healthy food systems to raise healthy future generations. It aims to reinforce their diet and lifestyles, by recognising nutrition’s critical role in various stages of children’s development. Furthermore, the initiative is an important part of Dubai Municipality’s attempts to create a sustainable food environment and proactively shield the populace from the risks associated with malnutrition, thereby improving the standard of living in the emirate.

Survey on needs

“We have conducted a survey to understand the nutritional and behavioural requirements of all groups, including students, teachers, parents, and food suppliers to schools. In order to create meals that satisfy the nutritional guidelines and requirements of children and young adults, experts and nutritionists will work with school canteens. This move towards better nutrition options aims to foster healthy eating habits at a young age, paving the way for long-term and integrated food options.”

Dubai Municipality organised various interactive lectures, workshops, and activities with an aim to identify the link between food choices, health, and the environment. The sessions were held in collaboration with nutrition and environmental sciences experts. Additionally, the sessions targeted an inclusive sample from all educational institutions, including schools, universities, and nurseries in the emirate of Dubai.

Recently, Dubai Municipality conducted activities and workshops at schools, featuring over 300 participants from different social groups. These initiatives aimed to increase students’ understanding of the value of recycling, reducing food waste, and incorporating eco-friendly practices into daily life to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable future.