New guidelines for healthier food donations

New guidelines for healthier food donations

Food donations
A display of items in Food from the Heart's revamped School Goodie Bag. (Photo: Food from the Heart)

SINGAPORE: The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has released its first set of guidelines for charities, voluntary welfare organisations and individual donors to choose healthier products when making food donations meant for low-income families.

Recommendations include having at least one item from each of the five main food groups - staples, oils, meat and alternatives, dairy and alternatives as well as fruit and vegetables - in each donation pack. 

At least one product in each of the food groups should also have the healthier choice symbol. A food pack that meets the required guidelines will get HPB’s healthier choice endorsement. 

Food packs from non-profit charity Food from the Heart were on Monday (Apr 23) the first to be endorsed by HPB under its new guidelines. The charity revamped its School Goodie Bag programme, which has been running since 2003, to include healthier options. 

The programme benefits 5,600 students from 28 primary and secondary schools and their families, said the charity. Each monthly bag, which costs about S$68, includes new products such as instant oatmeal, red rice vermicelli, breakfast cereal and eggs. 

The amount of rice and canned baked beans were reduced, while cooking oil was replaced by sunflower oil. Sugar was removed from the list of items. The result is that almost half of the food products in the pack are considered healthier. 

Food from the Heart CEO Kwa Eng Kiat said the revamp came about when the organisation did a review of the food pack and realised they could do better on nutritional value. 

He said, however, that while HPB's guidelines were helpful, they may be difficult to implement. “It really was a struggle for us to try to include healthier options because they tend to be more expensive," he added.

Source: CNA/na/(gs)