Kafe Rimba using nature in its concept to nurture love for environment among students.
A student utilising 3R recycling bins in maintaining the canteen’s cleanliness.

AT SMK Baru Miri, Sarawak, students clean up after themselves after a meal. No used plates and utensils are left unattended.

“Cloths are provided at every table for the students to wipe the table after eating,” said canteen “ambassador” Syed Haziq Hadif Wan Saifuddin.

This is to encourage common courtesy and good hygiene, he added.

The school canteen, Kafe Rimba, clinched the Gold Award in the secondary school category at the Canteen Services Best Practices 2019 for its efforts at increasing awareness on cleanliness, implementing healthy food menus and promoting school activities.

Kafe Rimba is no ordinary school canteen.

Its concept of nature with waterfall and fish pond surrounded by plants present a junglelike setting to inculcate the love for nature among students.

As the canteen “ambassador”, Syed Haziq has to ensure that all students participate in maintaining the cleanliness of the canteen.

“Our objectives include taking care of the environment, practising 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) and encouraging innovation among students.

“We identified two main waste from the canteen — used cooking oil and kitchen waste such as vegetables and fruit peelings.

We attempted to recycle these waste into new products.

“Used cooking oil, if not managed properly, will cause clogged pipes in the school canteen. Hence, we took a proactive step by collecting the used oil and recycled it into soap. These soaps were placed at the canteen to be used by students.

“We also gathered kitchen waste to produce organic fertiliser using the technique of bokashi composting. We mix the waste and bokashi powder in a container and ferment it for a week. Bokashi is Japanese for fermented organic matter.

“The process of making bokashi is easy, cheap and environmentally-friendly,” said the Form Six student.

These projects are spearheaded by the school’s Innovation Club, he added.

“It is my responsibility as a canteen ambassador to make sure that the implementation of these projects take place efficiently.

“In an effort to reduce littering, we have also placed trash cans around the school compound.

“It’s good to see that students spend time at the canteen, not only to enjoy a meal but also study. I hope with the recognition, we can be a role-model and inspire other schools to come out with similar initiatives,” he said.

Principal Jerrah Pandin revealed that the canteen’s atmosphere improves student attendance and learning attitude.

“Students generally spend a lot of time in school. Some are here as early as 5.20am to wait for their breakfast before lessons begin at 7am.

“They enjoy being at the school canteen as it provides a sense of tranquillity with its nature concept,” she said.

“Most of our students are from low income backgrounds, hence we want to create a conducive environment and provide nutritious and balanced meals at school for them.

“The canteen operator prepares healthy meals according to the correct serving size and portion. The calorie count for each menu is displayed for students to track their intake.

“We have introduced the no-plastic campaign to raise awareness on taking care of the environment.

“To succeed in our objectives, the collective efforts of all stakeholders are essential. I am thankful to all 862 students, 81 teachers and workers, parent-teacher association members and the canteen operator who gave their full commitment in making this project a success,” she added.

“Parents especially are supportive of our initiative. They volunteer to do gotong-royong and repair damaged chairs and tables at the

canteen.”

Jerrah hoped that this project teaches students to eat right and stay fit to achieve a normal Body Mass Index.

Organised by Holstein Milk Company in collaboration with the Education and Health Ministries, Canteen Services Best Practices is

an annual initiative to inculcate healthy eating habits and promote safe practices in school

canteens.

The programme also gives special recognition in the 3R Campaign, Healthy and Fresh Canteen, and Generasi Farm Fresh

Video categories. It received 58 entries from 30 primary schools and 28 secondary schools nationwide this year.

SMK Malim and SMK Raja Perempuan Ipoh received the silver and bronze awards respectively, in the secondary school category.

For the primary school category, the gold, silver and bronze awards went to SK Pauh Jaya, SK Bandar Tasik Kesuma and SJKC Chung Hua Pujut respectively.

The prize money is split into three portions — 60 per cent goes to the canteen operator, 30 per cent to the school while the remaining is channelled to the PTA.