Integrated Nutrition Messages for School and World Food Day
By Saira Jolly
Grow, nourish, and sustain together- our actions are our future. The slogan is meant for our future generation. The slogan ensures nutritious and safe food and health for all children. However, how can we serve a safe, nutritious and healthy diet to our children?
In honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) of the United Nations, October 16, 2020 marks the 75th year of observing “World Food Day”. As more than 150 countries struggle with a fragile food system, the COVID-19 pandemic further threatens to push millions more into hunger. Since, its inception, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (BRAC JPGSPH), BRAC University(BU) has focused its efforts in mitigating Bangladesh’s hunger and nutrition issues.
As part of that BRAC JPGSPH, BU has initiated the research project, “Development of Integrated Nutrition Messages for Schools“ in collaboration with FAO and the Ministry of Food of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and funded by the European Union. The aim of the project is to, develop a set of impactful messages encompassing thematic issues of healthy diets, nutrition and immunity; food safety, hygiene and sanitary practices; physical activity and lifestyle; and environment for the cover page of the school textbooks from pre-primary to class 10. This project will test understanding of messages in selected schools and finalize it by grouping the messages into three categories in relation the grade levels. We have formed a technical advisory committee (TAC) selecting policy-influencers and experts from the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of agriculture, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, UN organisations, academic/research institute and NGOs. A meeting was organized with the members of the TAC and inception workshop with the stakeholders for their technical guidance and consensus building of the project activities. Concurrently, we also spoke to key informants to get their perspectives on integrated nutrition messages for the school textbook. One respondent stated, “The concept of a healthy diet is critical. If I feed my child homemade food, this would be safe and ensure a healthy diet. This message should be conveyed to the children and their parents through the cover page of the book.” This research will empower not only the students but also parents and teachers with the integrated nutrition messages eventually leading toward achieving sustainable development goals.
Saira Jolly is a Senior Research Fellow at BRAC JPGSPH, BRACU