Nermin Hodžić participates in UNICEF's “Nutrition Friendly Schools”.

Through fun and games, include the children in the preparation of healthy meals.

Bojana Karanović for UNICEF
Kuhar Nermin i djeca
01 December 2018

We recommend parents to be persistent when it comes to the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables. It is enough to eat fruit or vegetable every day, for example, in salads, to meet the daily needs for minerals and vitamins, says Nermin Hodžić.

The chef from Sarajevo and the President of the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nermin Hodžić, is one of our most famous chefs, who through professional training and engagement visited the whole world – from Portugal to Brazil. He cooked for the presidents of states, as well as for celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Also, members of the football team of Bosnia and Herzegovina got convinced with his culinary skills at the World Football Championship in Brazil. The love of culinary culture leads him towards continuous improvement and education, and for his skills, he was awarded with numerous well-known awards.

We spoke with Nermin during the workshop “Nutrition friendly schools” at the First Primary School in Ilidža, where, together with his colleagues from the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he explained to children, who are enrolled in the first grade, how to prepare healthy lunch. He says that children responded well to the workshop and that the main goal was to transfer knowledge to children on how to combine different groceries and how to prepare the healthy meal themselves.

In the first phase of the project “Nutrition friendly schools,” which is conducted by UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well”, workshops with children are being held in four primary schools in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Besides working only with children, workshops are organized also for teachers and parents. The goal of the project, which is implemented according to the methodology of the World Health Organization, is not only to promote healthy nutrition among children and youth, but also to influence the adoption of appropriate policies at the level of educational institutions that would place healthy living habits in the general program and would be continuously promoted in educational institutions.

Nermin Hodžić says that he gladly responded to UNICEF’s invitation to participate in the workshops, and he stressed that students and teachers were delighted to work with chefs and nutritionists. The main intention was to promote the idea and awareness of healthy nutrition in a fun way because, through the game and participation, the young ones easily acquire new knowledge.

Nermin Kuhar kuha sa djecom
Kuhar Nermin i djeca kuhaju

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina is organizing a series of workshops in primary schools within the project “Nutrition friendly schools”. The Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina gladly responded to our call to jointly promote the principles of healthy nutrition among children, parents and teaching staff all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. What are the main messages you send at the workshops and how important is the realization of programs like this one?

The most important message is to develop awareness of parents, children, and teachers about healthy nutrition, and that this is not just an empty phrase. Parents should constantly insist on healthy meals for children and they should encourage the development of habits in children to always choose healthy things.

Past experience in working with parents and schools is generally positive. Parents and children are very happy when they participate in workshops and projects of this kind. Through the workshops, stereotypes break down that healthy food is expensive and that it takes a lot of time to be prepared.

Can you recommend several “tricks” to parents, so they could talk their children into eating healthy food – fruit, vegetables, and other healthy groceries?

The daily consumption of fruit and vegetables is of great importance. Sometimes it is enough to make a fresh orange juice and lemonade and add some honey. Sometimes it is possible to include children in preparing a meal through game and gun. Experience shows that in this way when children participate in the preparation of food, they find it easier to try something that they would otherwise not.

Parents often complain that they do not have the time or money to prepare healthy meals every day. What would you recommend to them?

Fruit and vegetables are still available to everyone in our country. Recommendation to parents is only to persist in the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. It is enough to eat fresh fruit or vegetables every day, for example, in salads, to meet daily needs for minerals, vitamins, and other important substances. If they eat fruit and vegetables every day then it will serve its purpose.

What are the groceries that should be an integral part of a healthy meal for school-age children every day?

Children should eat cereals, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and white or red meat every day. First, sugars and fats, as the biggest enemies of health, should be expelled. However, also this should not be eliminated completely, but reduced, because those are also the substances that our organism needs and without which we cannot function well and cannot be healthy.

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools” in cooperation with the competent ministries, public health institutes, NGO Public Health Partnership and the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well”, our goal is to, together with children, parents, and teaching staff, develop awareness of the importance of adopting and nurturing healthy lifestyle habits.