SINGAPORE: Some 6,000 students will receive between S$1 and S$1.50 daily for school meals over the next three years.
Koh Kock Leong Enterprise, which was a donor previously, has committed another S$1.6 million to the South West Community Development Council’s Meals Bursary programme.
The beneficiaries are students from schools in the South West District. The additional amount brings the total funding for the programme to S$2.7 million since its launch in 2008.
Good friends and classmates Celest Seah and Wendy Lim currently receive lunch coupons twice a week from their school.
Each coupon is valued at S$1.50 and goes some way in supplementing their school meal allowance.
But often, their meals consisting of potatoes, some vegetable and meat dishes are not enough for the 11—year—olds.
The additional dollar will give the girls more choice and the chance to eat more nutritious food.
Wendy said: "(It will) help me to have more energy during class and pay more attention, and not feel so hungry so often. And during CCA, I will also have more energy to participate more attentively."
Currently, Wendy receives about S$2 in pocket money every day, half of which goes to her meals. Celest receives a monthly allowance of about S$30.
Wendy said the additional money from the programme will help ease her parents’ financial burden.
The current programme will benefit more students, over a three—year period, instead of the four years in the previous programme.
Dr Amy Khor, mayor of the South West District, said: "We worked with the schools with regard to the quantum, and for primary and secondary school students, the dollar and dollar—fifty (respectively) —— the feedback from the school is that this is about the amount that they would spend during recess for their meals."
She added: "What we have actually done is to increase the income ceiling so that more families can qualify. So now the household income ceiling is S$3,000 a month, and they will be able to qualify for our meals bursary. In fact, we are very flexible."
This means schools can nominate students for the programme even if their family’s household income exceeds the ceiling.
The new round of funding also focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
This is the first time the CDC is collaborating with the Health Promotion Board to get some of the beneficiaries to be health ambassadors in their schools.
HPB will be giving out S$500 in seed funding to student groups to come up with health—related projects, to influence their peers on healthy eating habits.
The board currently runs Student Health Ambassadors, but it is a first in its collaboration with South West CDC in reaching out to children from lower— and lower—middle income families.
Ang Hak Seng, CEO of HPB, said: "It’s important that children from lower—income families are not deprived of a healthy lifestyle. Our studies have shown that some of them do not have the best healthy lifestyle, and that not only influences their health, but also impacts their academic performance."
With childhood obesity a growing concern in Singapore, HPB hopes beneficiaries will organise programmes that focus on healthy eating and on the benefits of exercise.
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