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14 May 2019

Natural classroom provides lunch and fulfills learning towards self-sufficiency (Read in Thai)

Nalintip, or Noey, a sixth-grade girl, is taking pleasure in the sour soup with deep fried oyster mushroom and acacia vegetable, a lunch meal provided by Ban Nam Thong Noi School. The toxin-free dish served at lunch today is made from fresh and clean produce right from the school’s natural classroom -- the farming plot which fulfills nutrition-complete food in compliance with Thai School Lunch’s recommendations. (The Thai School Lunch is a web-based programme which recommends proper school lunch sets.)

All students, including Noey, are school-age children, whose bodies and brains are in the significant developing stage. Lunch at school is another important meal of the day for them. Without sufficient daily nutrient-complete food intake, their abilities to concentrate, memorise, and learn in classroom are compromised.

Noey, a sponsored child in World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT)’s Chat Trakan Project, is the leader of the toxin-free vegetable growing group at Ban Nam Thong Noi School. There are also other groups, ie pig raising, frog raising, fish raising, laying chicken raising, and mushroom cultivation, which offer students hands-on experience to practice integrated farming skills based on the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy while schooling. The activities are financially supported by WVFT’s Child Sponsorship Programme with objectives to provide the school with a food source to supply lunch to all of the students and to equip students from the first to the sixth grade with appropriate basic farming method and to nurture them to stay on the life path based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Further, these activities complement the building of the students’ life skills, discipline, sense of gratefulness, ability to help around in their family, and good health. Plus, this extracurricular learning source also promotes food security at the school and within the community.

Mr Banjong Singtophueak, a teacher of Ban Nam Thong Noi School, summed up the issues that are once the school’s challenges: “The allocated budget was insufficient. Children suffered from health problems due to the lack of quality lunch. Moreover, after completing grade 6, some students faced problems which prevent them from pursuing higher level of education.”

The activity implementation has positively benefitted the school to achieve self-reliance, thanks to their ability to supply raw materials to the lunch project, which helps lessen the expense burdens and generate income to the school’s Sufficiency Economy Fund. Today, there is revolving cash of more than one hundred thousand baht in the fund which is spent to further support raw materials production to supply the lunch project. In the first term of Academic Year 2019 there is a plan to construct a hydroponic vegetable greenhouse, which will also serve as a learning centre to be visited and learnt from by interested people. Presently students have been able to adapt the knowledge at home.

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“I grow vegetable by myself to eat at home. I thank my sponsor for letting me gain the knowledge which I can try applying at home. And it works! The water spinach is thriving. If there are lots of yields, I’ll sell them to people in the community and put the money in the piggy bank, just in case of any emergency,” said Noey with a smiling face.

“Thank you sponsors and WVFT for fulfilling the integrated farming project. We have been able to keep it running until these days,” Mr Banjong expressed his thankfulness with a truthful smile.

Ban Nam Thong Noi School accepts students from kindergarten to primary school level. Presently, there are 97 students, 20 of which are WVFT’s sponsored children. It is one of the five schools supported to carry out occupational skills enhancement activities on integrated farming based on the Sufficiency Economy to enable students’ good nutrition and to promote the school to become a learning source which models to other communities and schools how to establish food security.

WVFT has started the Child Sponsorship Programme in Chat Trakan Project, Pitsanulok province since 2008, thanks to the generous sharing from the sponsors who have offered kind support to children in Chat Trakan Project area which covers 6 sub-districts. Today there are 1,600 sponsored children.