At the Half Day School, the teachers and staff understand that proper nutrition is key to physical health and positive educational outcomes. The Lunch Program was created to provide students with a healthful and nutritious meal every school day. This meal is often the sole form of nourishment that students will receive all day. Approximately 25 of the 100 Half Day School students are reliant solely on the lunch program for their food. Last school year, 21 students could not bring their own rice to have with the dishes provided by the school.
The head of the Lunch Program, Teacher Ming, is especially attuned to the situations that many of the students face as a former Half Day School student herself. Ming is now 25 years old, but remembers well her childhood and time as a student. Here is her story.
Ming had to move in with her aunt when she was seven. Shortly after, she came to the Half Day School as a student. She was stateless (without official identity papers), which greatly limited her educational opportunities. Ming was unable to go to a government school and the Half Day School program gave her the ability to pursue an education. The Lunch Program is very close to her heart, because she benefitted from the program when she was a student there.
Ming was able to bring rice from home to have for lunch, but she relied on food from the school’s Lunch Program. Ming completed Grade 5 - the top grade at that time - and then, at age 14, began leadership training through the Mekong Youth Leadership Training Program for one year. After completing the leadership training, she did vocational training for 3 months at the Mekong Regional Indigenous Child Rights Home (MRICRH), our program in Mae Chan District. Ming then worked for our organization's Child Help Line project for one and a half years, where she saw many sad cases. She then worked for our Child Voice Radio program, to deejay programs and train Half Day School students.
Ming has been an Half Day School teacher now for 3 years and she loves teaching. She says that the students are curious to learn, the way that she was at their age. She knows that they need to learn academic subjects, but believes that it is equally important for them to learn life skills that will protect them from trafficking and labor abuses. Ming notes especially that the Lunch Program is key to achieving these goals. The nourishment that the food provides improves the childrens’ abilities to focus on their academic subjects. The vocational training that the lunch program provides through its cooking and agricultural aspects increases students responsibility, self-sufficiency, and life skills through hands-on training.
We sincerely thank those who have donated to the program so far. Please help us reach our goal!
At DEPDC/GMS we believe that nourishment and physical health is essential to optimal learning. The HDS lunch program was created so that students would be provided with at least one healthful and nutritious meal every school day. The unfortunate reality for many HDS students is that the school lunch will be the only nourishment that they will have all day. This is true for approximately 25% of HDS students. This program also Two programs within the lunch program that have been particularly impactful are the agricultural and cooking training.
The cooking program increases students responsibility, self-sufficiency, and life skills through hands-on training. Students are given the opportunity to share their skills from home with their peers as well as expand their own skillsets. Although many students already have basic cooking skills, these skills are sharpened and built upon. Through the agricultural program students are taught about the growing seasons, which vegetables are the most nutrient dense, and other horticultural skills.
One student that has been particularly affected by our lunch program is Aran. Aran (15 y/o) is in many ways a typical teenage boy. He loves to play sports and often will make jokes in class. He is described by his teachers as a conscientious student with a gregarious personality. Unfortunately, Aran has many responsibilities and burdens that a typical Thai boy may not share. Aran is Akha, his family lives in the Jong village by a Lychee Plantation. His family works very hard but they cannot grow all of the food that they need. They are able to make a small profit from corn and tobacco which covers few of their minimal living expenses. The lunch program has been a huge help to Aran and his family. Through the program Aran has been able to get at least one nutritious meal a day, learned many new skills, and best of all has been able to take home some of the produce that he grows in the garden! He says that his favorite vegetables to grow are onions and lettuce and that it makes him happy to work in the garden before and after school.
We thank those who have donated so far to the program!
DEPDC/GMS operates in areas of Thailand where children are most at risk of being trafficked and exploited. Its strategies for protecting children from trafficking mainly include prevention through education, life-skills and vocational training. Additionally, it provides protection and rehabilitation for rescued and escaped victims of trafficking and exploitation. On top of individual development, helping children understand their rights and building the children’s sense of self-worth, DEPDC/GMS also works on family and community development in order to create an environment in which child exploitation does not occur.
One essential aspect of the work conducted at DEPDC/GMS’ is the Half Day School Lunch Program, which was implemented to provide all of its students with at least one meal during the day; so the children can be healthy and strong in order to focus on their education. Unfortunately, some of the students are not lucky enough to have breakfast in the mornings and dinner during the evening. In approximately 25% of cases, this makes the lunch provided by the Half Day School their main source of nourishment.
The day starts early to make sure that the program runs smoothly, in order to provide lunch for all of the 106 students at the Patek Half Day School. A typical day has a schedule similar to the one below:
06:30 – 07:30 The teacher in charge makes their way to the market to purchase the fresh vegetables, tofu, eggs and vegan substitutes which are required for the day.
08:00 – 09:00 Produce arrives at the school and three students (different each day of the week) help unload the groceries and take them to the kitchen. All of the cooking equipment is then cleaned and the vegetables are washed, sorted and cut, in preparation for cooking.
10:00 – 10:30 Cooking starts for all of the students at the school.
11:30 – 12:00 The kindergarten students eat lunch.
12:00 – 12:30 The rest of the students at the school eat.
12:30 – 13:00 Three students (different from those who helped prepare and cook in the morning) clean the dishes and kitchen, ready for use the next day.
Each day of the week is led by a different teacher, to provide the kids with a variety of cooking hints, tips, and styles. The dishes the students cook are as varied as their backgrounds (97% of the students coming from ethnic minorities). However, the favorites include: or a type of noodle salad dish, or fried vegetables and a kind of mild curry soup.
Another project conducted as part of the Lunch program is a small agriculture site. This project was designed to help supplement the food requirements of the program, which can cost upwards of 10,500 (approximately $320 US) per month; solely on the core ingredients of rice, seasonings and gas for the stoves.
The students are heavily involved in the cultivation and in the daily maintenance of the garden. Activities such as seeding, fertilization, watering and harvesting the crops, all the way through to the preparation of food for the school, helps provide the students with a sense of ownership and empowerment which they may not otherwise receive.
This garden contains crops which have been chosen by the students to include a variety of organically grown vegetables, such as: lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and chilies. Currently, 80% of the garden is earmarked for the poorer children to take away and have as meals later in the evening or for their families to sell on the market stalls to supplement their earnings. The remaining 20% of the crops are for the use of the lunch program which helps reduce the overall costs encountered by DEPDC/GMS.
We thank those who have donated so far to the program and here is a breakdown of how your donations will help the studnets:
$10 Will provide lunch, for one student, for a whole month.
$16 Will provide lunch, for two students, for a whole month.
$35 Will provide fresh fruit, for every child, for three days out of the week.
$230 Will provide the ingredients needed for every student’s lunch, for one week.
$920 Will provide the ingredients needed for every student’s lunch, for one month.
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Director of Mae Sai Projects