Schools Nutrition Clubs launched in twinned schools

Class 6 students excited to learn new food skills

By: Colleen Walton, FHF Project Committee Nutrition Advisor

School Nutrition Clubs are new for Farmers Helping Farmers and align with school gardens and cookhouses, family nutrition programming, home gardening and grow bags initiatives of the Global Affairs More Food, Better Food project.

In February 2021, school administration and teachers were consulted and were supportive and optimistic about the Nutrition Club approach. They suggested that club learning be planned in a way that ensures there is a session to pass the knowledge to the rest of the class. In August 2021, 17 girls and boys from class 6 at the Kibirichia Primary School joined the first-ever FHF School Nutrition Club.

The program, designed by UPEI, Kenyatta University and FHF collaborations, covers four main areas:

-The hygiene experts: Health habit practices to prevent illness
-Protecting zinc and iron in foods: Nutrients for strength
-Fill your plate with colour: Vitamins for health
-The Kitchen’s Top Secret: Sustainable kitchen gardening and important garden crops

Students were rewarded for their after-school attendance with a small snack, such as a piece of fruit

The club members were cooperative and ready to participate as James and Brian facilitated the sessions. The school administration provided a small plot of land for the students to carry out kitchen gardening. Seeds, farm tools and vertical garden sets were provided to the Club through FHF.

In September, Nutrients for Strength and Vitamins for Health sessions were held, where strategies for and food sources of specific micronutrients i.e. vitamin A and C, iron, zinc, and folate were explored. Students, with the help of Gikundi, designed simple kitchen gardens which utilize small spaces and provide the foods that “Fill your plate with colour”.

This was super exciting for the students The club members were all involved in digging, watering, and planting. We could tell from their faces that the students were impressed by this activity which gave them a sense of ownership. (reported by James Mureithi)

This food-based nutrition education program is intended to enhance the food-related knowledge and attitudes of Class 6 pupils and to help them adopt recommended food-related practices at home.

The curriculum builds on the Kenyan nutrition education curriculum and involves both theory and hands-on practice. Students learn strategies to improve their intake of important micronutrients including vitamin A, C, iron and zinc and to reduce the risk of micronutrient deficiencies which are common in Kenya.

The program is aimed at students in Class 6 as they have likely begun to help with cooking at their homes and enables them to become agents of change in the home and prepares them better for future independent living.

The Nutrition Club program is being delivered in schools where FHF has school gardens and cookhouses, where the usual maize and beans stew served at lunch is nutritionally enhanced by the addition of more vegetables from the garden and by using preparation methods that help improve the availability of micronutrients.

Children from many of the households are vulnerable to malnutrition as they often consume a high starch diet that is low in vegetables, fruit and animal protein and high in anti-nutrients.

The program was adapted from several sources, and piloted with Kenyan students by MSc Student Julie Oyoo under the leadership of Drs. Jennifer Taylor (UPEI) and Judith Mgumba (Kenyatta University). The program was adapted to Meru food culture by James Mureithi (FHF Community Nutritionist) and Brian Mutuma (Nutrition student trainee) with support from FHF project committee nutrition advisors.

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