Teacher Aree Sripiyaphao, the child caregiver, arrives at the Ban Yang Pao Child Care Centre at daybreak to supervise the preparation of delicious, nutrient-rich breakfast for 55 preschoolers, aged two to four.
‘Rice on every single plate and food on every single dish must be eaten with appreciation and not be wasted’. All of the children are reciting a verse which reminds them of how precious food is before digging in to the delectable breakfast. This morning’s menu includes winter melon soup with a chicken drum, served with freshly cooked steamed rice in a compartment food tray. A fresh orange is added to fulfill the nutrition needs. A carton of UHT milk wraps up the first meal which sets out the new day of the preschoolers in a hilltop community which is situated remotely, far away from the civilisation.
Chanon takes much pleasure in his meal. The breakfast tastes so good that the boy asks his teacher for some more.
Teacher Aree shared something good that has arisen from the Breakfast for Kids Project supported by World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) implemented in Om Koi Project, Chiang Mai province: ‘In the past, the children came to school hungry as they didn’t have breakfast to eat at home because their parents have too many kids and aren’t able to afford to provide breakfast for everyone. They also need to rush to work in the field. But now, all of the children can have breakfast here. They are able to eat more food. Their nutritional status has improved. For instance, Chanon was underweight when he was 2 years old, the same time when he first enrolled. According to our monitoring, it is found that, right now, at 4 years of age, he has gained more weight and height, attaining age-appropriate development’.
Aside from the budget support for the child care centre to provide nutritious breakfast that focuses on processing locally available raw materials to nutritious food in order to ensure good health of children, the Breakfast for Kids Project provides knowledge in food management and child nutrition to parents, caregivers, and all relevant sectors in the community and raises awareness of early childhood nutrition promotion. In the previous year, the Breakfast for Kids Project conducted a training session on safe food preparation for children and emphasised the importance of nutrient-rich food. As a result, parents of children at Ban Yang Pao Child Care Centre, as well as other child care facilities, have become aware of the importance of children’s diets and contributed raw resources, such as rice or home-grown vegetables and fruits, to make breakfast for the kids.
Teacher Aree unveiled her feeling after having witnessed the children’s transformation. ‘I’m happy to see that the children have developed a better nutritional status and come to class early in the morning. Chanon has become happy and cheerful, been able to focus better, and developed readiness when learning and doing activities. This project is very good as it has provided the children with nutrient-rich food and clean drinking water. The children have got a better opportunity to learn through playing and gained better development in all aspects. On behalf of the parents, I’d like to thank you for the generosity you’ve been extending to the children’, Teacher Aree said with a smile.
‘I’m glad that my kid gets to eat breakfast at the child care centre. He can eat more when he eats with his friends. The breakfast here is a lot better than what we provided for him at home. I’ve noticed that he can eat all kinds of vegetables and fruits. He has become chubbier and healthier’, Pranee, Chanon’s mother, laughed happily.
The Breakfast for Kids is a special project conducted to promote child proper nutrition and address early childhood malnutrition problem. The implementation is part of WVFT’s Learning Root Plus Project, which focuses on early childhood care and development to drive all sectors in the community and Thai society to improve early childhood development in 3 facets: learning and life skills, health and nutrition, and child protection.
The Learning Root Plus Project has a goal to promote the well-being of children in early childhood, from 3-6 years old, for them to gain age-appropriate development in all facets: physically; emotionally; socially and intellectually, by supporting child caregivers and parents to have knowledge in child development stimulation and child nutrition and health for better early childhood care. In addition, the project ensures that child care centres and kindergartens have learning-enabling facilities for children and support raw resources for preparing the breakfast of the preschoolers, as consumption of nutritious food helps physical and brain development and get children ready to start their new day of learning. This first meal of the day has helped provide nutritious diets to supplement the children’s brain development and lessened the burdens of many families with insufficient income to provide proper and healthy food for their kids.