School Meals Project update

Since beginning our charity partnership with Plan International Whole Kids have aimed to provide half a million breakfasts to school children in Cambodia through The World Food Program. The great news is we are almost there! With your help through purchasing our products we have been able to provide 450,002 breakfasts to help children stay in school.

We wanted to share with you the impact you are having by purchasing Whole Kids products.

Why this project?

Many children in Cambodia go to school hungry or do not go to school at all because they lack the energy on an empty stomach.

This project aims to increase the number of children going to school by providing them and their families with meals, which will also help children to concentrate in the classroom.

Most families in rural Cambodia depend on farming for their livelihoods, which means their income is susceptible to erratic weather events such as floods and droughts. This means that when crops fail, families often do not have enough food to eat and children go to school hungry. Sometimes, children from poor families stay home from school or are even forced to drop out altogether because they feel sick from hunger and are unable to concentrate on their schoolwork. Another reason children drop out of school is to work in times of financial hardship to help their families earn extra money.

How is Whole Kids contribution helping?

When children are constantly hungry, their physical development is affected and they find it hard to focus in class. If children are forced to drop out of school and work, they are being deprived of their childhood and right to an education. This makes it increasingly difficult to break the cycle of poverty.

Key Activity:

  • Continue to provide school breakfasts consisting of rice, fish and beans as well as a monthly take-home ration and cash scholarships to students and their families in Siem Reap;
  • Maintain school gardens so that schools can continue to grow their own food; involve the commune councils in the project through taking responsibility for food distribution;
  • Strengthened record keeping and processes in schools to ensure food is stored and distributed effectively;

Stories from the field: Contributing to the wider community

 

A community get creative to feed children

For 286,000 students in Cambodia, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Since 1999, World Food Programme has been providing children with nutritious food to start the school day and to help them to learn, play and concentrate while they are there.

As students pour into their school in rural Siem Reap each morning, the cooks have already been working for hours. With no refrigerator and just a small stove, school cooks are now making fresh, locally sourced and nutritious meals for an average of 150 students each day. Creativity, not electricity is a key ingredient in their success.

In 2015, WFP launched a home-grown school meals project in two schools. It has been expanded and now helps nearly 17,000 students in four provinces. Where this food comes from and how it gets to the students can have a huge impact on student’s health, the local economy and can provide a source of income to local farmers.

The impact of fresh food on students, and a community

Today, nearly all of the food that is prepared at schools comes from farms within a 10km radius. The weekly menu includes vegetables each day, regular eggs and meat and is based on the crops that are in season. When a food is in season, it’s cheap, abundant and at its freshest point.

Feeding 150 children each day, and sourcing, transporting and cooking food has brought teachers, parents and farmers together.

“People have gotten really deeply involved. Everyone in the community participates. Parents are farmers and supply some of the food, the teachers are the storekeepers and keep track of it. The community is involved every step of the way. Parents have also become stakeholders in their children’s health and nutrition. They don’t want their children to get illnesses such as diarrhoea and miss school,” explains Carla Mejia.

It’s not just about food

WFP is also supporting children in the classroom to improve their hygiene practices, by learning how to brush their teeth and wash their hands correctly. In doing so, they can improve their overall health and take this knowledge home to their families.

“The school meals programme isn’t just a method for distributing food,” Carla Mejia explains. “It’s an opportunity to improve the quality and nutritional value of the food that children are eating, and to improve food safety practices in school kitchens.”

As for the students, the change to their meals has been a welcome one. “The students are very happy with the food, and their favourite meal is scrambled eggs and morning glory (a green vegetable),” Carla explains.

Find out more about Whole Kids involvement with the School Meal Project here.

Learn more from our blog