The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is exploring the possibility of implementing a central kitchen system, similar to the one used in Japan, to improve the quality and nutritional value of school lunches in Thailand. This concept was introduced to the BMA by Nobuko Tanaka, a former school lunch specialist with Japan’s School Health Education Division.
In a central kitchen system, food preparation and cooking for school meals are consolidated at a single location, leading to increased efficiency and economies of scale. The prepared food, which can be fresh, cooled or frozen, is then transported to individual school kitchens for portioning, heating, and serving. Each central kitchen caters to multiple schools located in the same area.
Deputy city clerk of BMA, Dr. Wantanee Wattana, has expressed interest in adopting the Japanese model and is currently surveying potential sites in Bangkok for a pilot phase of the project. At present, the BMA administers the Thai School Lunch for BMA program, which provides schools with guidelines on the standard quality of meals and recommended energy and nutrition intake for students.
The Institute of Nutrition at Mahidol University has also developed a school lunch program that includes a rotating list of nutritious dishes. Many schools in Thailand are faced with challenges such as finding suitable cooks or catering providers and managing food and cooking costs. A centralized kitchen system could help address these issues, suggests Dr. Wantanee.
By adopting the central kitchen system, the BMA aims to enhance the quality of school lunches, promote healthier eating habits among students, and create a positive and lasting impact on their overall well-being. With this new approach, the BMA hopes to set an example for other regions in Thailand to follow and improve the standard of school meals nationwide.
In addition to improving meal quality, the central kitchen system could also lead to new job opportunities in the food production and transportation sectors. Furthermore, schools could allocate more time and resources to other critical aspects of education, such as curriculum development and teacher training, instead of managing meal preparation.
This initiative by the BMA showcases the importance of sharing and implementing successful models from other countries. The central kitchen system in Japan has proved to be highly effective in ensuring that students receive nutritious and delicious meals, while also streamlining the process for schools. If successfully implemented in Thailand, this system could significantly improve the quality of school lunches and set a new standard for other countries to follow.