SINGAPORE, [20 November 2013] – A new startup, Whizmeal, is using technology to fix a growing problem that affects 11%** of all children in Singapore: childhood obesity. Most canteen stalls still do not follow the Singapore Health Promotion Board’s guideline of providing a balanced meal. Some continue to sell processed food and deep fried items.
Whizmeal addresses the root cause of encouraging healthier meals to be served in school canteens. By providing the web portal www.whizmeal.com to feature meals prepared by these stallholders, Whizmeal then promotes the menu to parents of the school on what their child is having and provides a monthly menu for pre-ordering. In doing so, stallholders earn a more consistent monthly income and can continue providing and also improve these healthy set meals.
Mrs Tan Soon Mei, one of the co-founders of Whizmeal added, “Whizmeal aims to cut obesity rate by half in 2022 through such healthier eating engagement with the key stakeholders in schools. We see canteens as nutritional enablers and through Whizmeal – schools, stallholders, parents are more involved in children’s eating habits.”
A pilot program with the Punggol Green Primary School was started with over 80% of school’s students and parents, with the majority of parents reporting that their children have not only consciously made healthier eating choices, but are also encouraging their siblings to adopt positive habits as well.
Mr Beni Ong said the program had transformed her daughter. “We realized that since Dawn joined the Whizmeal program in Punggol Green Primary School, she has become more open to all types of foods. When we buy or cook food of different types or mixes, her younger sister, Eve, in K1 will voice her objection and reject the food. But Dawn will always express her opinion and say that we should try different types of food as long as they are healthy. And she has since learnt how to organize her plate, tidying and arranging the food neatly, returning her plate to the kitchen basin.”
However, it would take time for these positive habits to form. Whizmeal witnessed food wastage at the beginning of the year had been reduced to just a few students not completing their meals during random checks on students returning their plates. Whizmeal does not replace canteen stallholders but acts as a technology platform to encourage stallholders to prepare healthier menus so that parents will support by ordering monthly food items regularly. Stallholders remain the expert in preparing meals but this is no longer sustainable with higher food costs, food wastage and more emphasis on healthy eating.
Mrs Tan added, “Our aim is to bring Whizmeal on a national level and to implement the program to at least twenty schools within the next five years. In doing so, we will influence 160 canteen stallholders and more than 20,000 students, which will translate to more than 3.5 million annual school meals consumed during recess. The fight against obesity needs a concerted effort. We are keen to work closely with key government agencies such as Ministry of Education, Health Promotion Board and National Environment Agency and F&B industry partners.”
For more information, please visit www.whizmeal.com
See Whizmeal in action: 3mins video clip [http://goo.gl/VXKlzZ]
** During her speech at the 2013 Rise and Shine Breakfast Carnival, Senior Minister of State (Ministry of Health) Dr Amy Khor highlighted the problem of childhood obesity, which is now standing at a rate of 11%.