(formerly Basic Feeding and Agriculture Programs)
Following the first Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger, this program aims to reduce the number of children in the area who suffer from hunger.
In addition to coordination with other agencies in the area in achieving this mission, the Nutrition Program comprises six different feeding programs.
Basic Feeding/Dry Food Program
The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) has for many years been the distributor of a dry food program designed to target those most in need of nutritional assistance and provide them with basic necessities. As food prices have increased and donor resources decreased over the past years, so, too, has the food package provided through the dry food program decreased in size. Often the MTC is unable to provide enough food to meet the needs of all children in the program, or to feed them for the time allotted between deliveries. Our Basic Feeding programs aims to support the work of the MTC by providing additional basic food staples to programs. We focus on attaining the minimum amount of rice and yellow beans required per student through supplementation of the MTC dry food program.
The Basic Feeding program most often takes the form of deliveries of rice and yellow lentils directly to the school, either monthly or bi-monthly. In some cases these deliveries form a kind of emergency or short-term assistance. Sometimes it bridges a gap between food funding periods or donors. In other cases it is the opening program which allows us to begin a relationship which may become a full partnership in the future.
Schools supported by this program in 2012: Ler Doh, New Blood.
Daily Food Program
Although rice is the local dietary staple, children cannot live on rice alone. The Daily Food Program attempts to provide partners with a daily stipend for the purchase of fresh vegetables and protein in order to cook meals for children. There are two elements to the program: school lunches and boarding house funding.
Schools supported by this program in 2012: Agape (lunch+boarding house food), Heavenly Home (lunch), Hsa Mu Htaw (lunch), Pyi Chit (lunch+boarding house food), Irrawaddy Flower Garden (lunch), Ler Doh (boarding house food), Shwe Tha Zin (boarding house food).
Nursery Snack Program
Children under the age of five years old are particularly vulnerable to experiencing life-long effects of malnutrition such as stunting. Stunting not only leaves the body under developed but has lasting effects on brain development as well. As a result, targeting children under five is particularly important. For that reason whenever possible, we provide snacks for children participating in nursery programs. Nursery programs generally provide education to children between the ages of three and five. In addition to receiving lunch, they are fed an additional snack during the day, ideally fortified soy milk and fruit.
Schools supported by this program in 2012: Child Recreation Centre, Hsa Mu Htaw.
Supplemental Protein Program
Our goal is to enable children to eat protein at least twice a week. This is often not possible at a rate of 8 THB per child per day. As a result, the supplemental protein program provides partners with additional funds or deliveries of yellow lentils and eggs.
Schools supported by this program in 2012: Agape, Heavenly Home, SAW Safehouse, Shwe Tha Zin.
Even children who are able to fill their bellies with rice and vegetables may still suffer from deficiencies in some micro vitamins as a result of poor nutrition or under nutrition. The Vitamin Program works in conjunction with the Mae Tao Clinic’s de-worming program in order to ensure that children’s bodies are able to receive the full benefit of the nutrition in their food. A daily multivitamin is provided to children three times a week. The vitamins themselves have a sweet, blue coating which makes them very popular with children. All participating partners have reported the children enjoy taking their vitamins because they taste good and are blue.
Sustainable Gardens Program
The Sustainable Gardens Program has two aims. The first is to enable partners to improve children’s nutrition by growing their own vegetables. The second is to reduce partner’s dependence on donor support in providing food to children. Working together with our partners at Khom Loy Development Foundation, we have provided training on soil improvement, garden planning, seasonal calendars to three partner programs. In addition, we work with partners to teach them to create low-cost agricultural inputs such as organic fertilizer and insecticides. Mushroom sheds are a part of the sustainable gardens program. In 2010, we helped implement mushroom growing programs with twelve partners. We provide training to the school as well as funding for the construction of the mushroom hut. When the hut is stocked with mushroom spore bags, we continue providing technical assistance and monitoring the mushrooms. Each mushroom spore bag provided produces mushrooms for an average of three months. Currently, we do not run this program during the dry season due to water and weather constraints, however Khom Loy has been experimenting with new systems of water catchment and irrigation which may make dry season farming possible in the future. For now, access to water remains one of the main barriers to this program.
Schools with mushroom huts in 2012: Agape, APEBC, CDC, Heavenly Home, Hsa Mu Htaw, Kwe Ka Baung, Love and Care, Maw Taw Lu, New Blood, Nya Li Ah Hta, Pyi Chit, Shwe Tha Zin, Sky Blue.
Room to Grow attempts to coordinate with other groups in the area in order to coordinate and share information on nutrition and children. This includes participating in coordination meetings on school health, and education, as well as organizing and hosting workshops on nutrition for groups working in the education sector. Wherever possible we seek to integrate our efforts into a broader spectrum of work which seeks to decrease malnutrition in children along the border.