Better nutrition for children in kindergartens and schools for quality early child growth and development

25 July 2018
Two young girls picking up tomatoes in a field
UNICEF/2017/Georgiev

Skopje, 9 March 2018: The Minister of Education and Science, Renata Deskoska, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Mila Carovska, UNICEF Representative, Benjamin Perks and Deputy Minister of Health Goce Cakarovski addressed the participants at the workshop “Through better nutrition to better health and wellbeing of children”.

The event was aimed to present the findings of the conduced survey on the quality of nutrition for children in kindergartens and schools. The results show lack of fresh fruits and vegetables and micronutrients in the diet, such as calcium, iron and zinc, and increased intake of sugar and salt compared to recommended quantities. 

Nutrition-related problems in the youngest population as global challenge also persist in our country.  On one hand, there is a problem of malnutrition of children, even though at low level, and on the other hand, the problem of overweight and obesity, with an increasing trend in the country according to data. 

This state is indicative of the existence of imbalanced nutrition for the youngest population. This phenomenon is a serious challenge and requires taking a multisector and a “whole of society” approach. 

Legislative changes have been undertaken that stipulate sanctions for non-implementation of the Rulebook on the standards for nutrition and meals in primary schools, which shall be also adapted to the kindergartens.

According to Minister Deskoska, school is the place where children learn about healthy life style, whereas education should prepare the students for all aspects of their life, including healthy life style and nutrition.  Sanctions and inspection surveillance are foreseen for monitoring the food quality in the schools. 

“Some families in the country cannot afford balanced nutrition for their children. Therefore, the system and the society through pre-school facilities and schools should meet at least the  minimum standards for proper food intake on daily basis’’- said Minister Carovska and added that the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy makes efforts to increase the coverage of children in pre-school education, thus provide adequate meals for bigger number of children. 

“Poor nutrition affects not only the physical development of children, but also undermines the cognitive, emotional and social development as well as learning abilities in children. Nutrition is not concern for individual only, but rather a concern of the whole society. The promotion of good nutrition habits in the schools may lead to significant contribution for the overall child development and breaking the intergenerational cycle of poor nutrition habits,“ said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative. 

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