This programme aims to help improve the nutritional level of pupils so that they can focus their attention on teaching and learning in school. It is expected to ensure the improvement of physical growth, mental health and general health of the school children in addition to helping them benefit from a balanced diet.
The programme was initiated in 1976 as part of the Food and Nutrition Practice Plan organised by the Prime Minister's Department. This was a community development programme based on the efforts in health, agriculture and education. During its initial phase of implementation, the focus was on primary school pupils and the rural areas. From the early 1980s, when the Ministry of Education took over its entire management, the programme was expanded to all areas throughout the country. Since the 1990s, the family socio-economic status has become the main criterion for selection of pupils.
Primary school pupils, especially those from rural areas and whose families earn a monthly income of RM400 and less, which is RM 800 per capita.
The rate set by the Ministry of Education is RM1.80 per day for pupils in Peninsular Malaysia and RM2.05 a day for pupils in Sabah, the Federal Territory and Sarawak beginning 1 March 2007. The rate is calculated based on the cost of raw materials in the market and does not take into account service, fuel and drinks. The programme is implemented throughout the 190 school days in a year.
The Supplementary Food Scheme Committee selects a food supplier who is responsible for managing the supply of food, preparing and serving the food, cleaning the equipment and serving area. The school will choose 5 or 10 menus from a list of 20 menus prepared by the Ministry of Education and these menus are repeated every week or two weeks according to local taste, the capacity of the food supplier and conformity with the financial allocations. The food preparation process is conducted by 95% of school canteens in Peninsular Malaysia and the food is enjoyed by pupils a few minutes before recess.