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Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan

by Zindagi Trust
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Breakfast for Kindergarten schoolgirls in Pakistan
Our breakfast staff waiting to welcome kids back
Our breakfast staff waiting to welcome kids back

Since our schools closed after the outbreak of COVID19 in March, the 500 students from Kindergarten through the second grade to whom we served breakfast every morning in school had been missing out on their daily dose of essential and healthy nutrition. In our last email, we updated you about distributing essential food items to the families of these students during the school closure and citywide lockdowns. Today, we would like to share a bit about the impact of this distribution. We were able to ensure that student families who had suffered the most economically due to illness or loss of livelihood could continue to support the nutrition of not only our students but their entire family without a worry. After the distribution, we received an overwhelming response from the community with many parents reaching out with messages of gratitutde and appreciation. One such family was that of 5-year-old Aliya, a student of KG-2 at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government School. Soon after the pandemic hit Karachi, Aliya's father suffered from an attack of paralysis, had to be hospitalized and was unable to continue his day job to provide for their family. Aliya was one of the many Early Years students whose families received a Care Pack with food and hygiene essentials meant to last a month. Several weeks later, our KG teacher Uzma received a call from Aliya's family who expressed their deep gratitude as they shared how the Care Pack sent by the school supported them in tiding things over till her father recovered.

Now, as we gear up for schools to reopen, our breakfast staff looks forward to welcoming the little ones again and once again establishing healthy eating habits, albeit in a drastically changed environment. Jamna is one of the breakfast chefs at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School. On a typical day at school, Jamna prepares healthy meal options (such as the student favourite porridge with seasonal fruits!), serves it to the students and maintains the cleanliness of the Breakfast room. She is an integral part of the program and provides valuable input as new meals are added to the breakfast menu. For example, when a seasonal vegetable soup was introduced at Khatoon-e-Pakistan School, Jamna tested the recipe to estimate the amount of time it would take to prepare which eventually helped in deciding the days of the week it would be served on, and also tweaked the recipe according to the student's tastes.

Jamna herself has also learned the importance of cutting out processed foods and sugar from the diet of young children. She shares that she initially found it strange when smoothies, oatmeal and salads were introduced in the menu without any added sugar. Over the years, she learned not only that children's tastes can be shaped to develop healthy eating habits at an early age but also why it was important to do so. When her own daughter Suhana - a flourishing kindergartener at the same school - started bringing home lessons of the importance of good nutrition for a developing mind and body, Jamna was grateful that she already knew so many natural, healthy and additive-free recipes! She now not only prepares these healthy recipes at home but encourages her family and her neighbours to give them a try too for their own children.

Jamna and the rest of the all-female staff of the breakfast team have really been missing the eager happy faces they would serve every morning and are excited to have them back soon. We are currently working on a plan for safe school re-opening to ensure that the risk of exposure and transfer of the novel coronavirus is minimized. To this end, the breakfast staff will be trained on important Standard Operating Procedures to be followed in the Breakfast Room such as ensuring safe distance between students and proper ventilation. Preventing malnutrition and increasing the learning capacity of our government school students is a goal which has become even more important in the post-pandemic world. We hope to have your support as we gear up for this new normal - please donate generously to continue providing local, seasonal, healthy and additive-free breakfast. 

The team hard at work before our last school event
The team hard at work before our last school event

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In the Care Packages: lentils, rice, soap and more
In the Care Packages: lentils, rice, soap and more

COVID19 may limit their movement but not their nutrition

It has now been two full months since COVID-19 shut down our schools and put the whole world in lockdown. Our first worry was fulfilling the nutritional needs of our students who depend on the daily breakfast served at our schools. With no economic activity, many families struggled to put even two full meals on the table let alone the kind of wholesome nutritious meals required for the healthy growth of young children. The pandemic exacerbated the need to support the nutrition of these students, many of whom come from families who were already unable to provide them with any kind of breakfast in pre-COVID times.

In early to mid March, we conducted a household survey to gauge the needs of our students, asking their parents about the number of meals they were eating, whether they required food rations to survive the lockdown, and what kind of access to technology they had at home to be able to consume educational content. Based on the findings of the survey, care packages were put together containing food and hygiene essentials as well as learning materials including art and activity worksheets with colour pencils. The Food Essentials included: 10 Kg flour, 3 kg of daal and chana (lentils and beans), 2 kg of rice, 3 litres of cooking oil as well as tea, dairy tea whitener and sugar. Care Packages were sent to the homes of 118 students enrolled in the breakfast program at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS) and 151 students at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School (SMB).

During and post the process of distribution of care packages, several parents have called their children’s teachers and expressing their gratitude for not only taking care of their immediate needs but also for morally supporting them in these uncertain and difficult times.

Pre-Corona Menu

Before the schools closed down in March, our schools were running their winter menu. 250 students at KPS and 300 students at SMB were served a menu rotating among the following: boiled eggs, potato and spinach with chapati, vegetable soup, khagina (scrambled eggs, onions and potatoes) with chapati, mashed potatoes with cucumber and carrot sticks, boiled moong daal (lentils) with diced tomatoes and capsicum. These were either served with a glass of milk, chikoo milk shake or seasonal fruits like bananas or oranges. The students had started enjoying breakfast so much that they started demanding the same at home and many mothers have come to the school to learn these recipes.

Donate!

We thank you for your support in the past and urge you to make a donation today to support nutritious meals for children in these uncertain times!

Learning Packs: Art worksheets and colour pencils
Learning Packs: Art worksheets and colour pencils
Care packages ready to be distributed to families
Care packages ready to be distributed to families

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Excited to start her day with boiled eggs and milk
Excited to start her day with boiled eggs and milk

Zindagi Trust’s Breakfast Program, which aims to provide students with a nutritious locally sourced meal to start the day, is continuing with fervor at our two adopted government schools. The program seeks to integrate and build awareness of health, nutrition and environment among our young students.

At Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS), breakfast is served to students of nursery, kindergarten, first grade and second grade totaling 250 students. However, due to its larger student body, SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School (SMB) is currently only able to serve breakfast to their 300 kindergarten students.

New arrivals at our tiny farm

Students of the Environment Club at KPS have planted bottle gourd, ridged gourd and okra in the backyard garden and we are looking forward to them becoming an addition to our breakfast menu soon! While the early years students are not a part of the club, teachers and gardeners regularly take them to the vegetable garden and allow them to explore the process of growing food. Students walk around, spot vegetables growing at different stages and water the crops as well. We hope that such a practice allows students to develop respect and an appreciation for the earth and the food that it gives us.

What’s on the Menu?

We strive to create a menu which has the appropriate mix of whole grains, fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. All effort is made to ensure processed foods are eliminated such as using dates as a sweetener instead of sugar, preparing bread in-house instead of using store-bought options and sourcing hormone-free fresh milk from a local farm. The focus is to provide a healthy and balanced meal without compromising on taste. This time both our decided on the same menu, which included boiled eggs, aloo parathas (flatbreads stuffed with potato) seasoned with crushed cumin, spinach omelettes with whole wheat roti, wheat cereal, black chickpea salads with potatoes. Yogurt, milk and a mix of seasonal fruits such as oranges, pomegranate melons, apples and bananas served daily.

Please continue to support this program and share any ideas you may have for affordable, local and healthy menu options to fuel the brains that will shape Pakistan's future!

Chickpea salad with potatoes, cucumber and yogurt
Chickpea salad with potatoes, cucumber and yogurt
Planting okra & gourd for the breakfast table
Planting okra & gourd for the breakfast table
Watering the vegetable garden
Watering the vegetable garden

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Queuing up for boiled eggs and milk
Queuing up for boiled eggs and milk

After a long summer break of nearly two months, the hustle bustle of school resumed in July. As the schools continued to serve nutritious local meals to their little elementary school students they observed the adjustment to the back-to-school routine had brought challenges with it.

At Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS) it was noticed students of Kindergarten were taking longer than usual to complete their meals due to their recent change in waking up time. Not to be daunted, the school management in conjunction with the breakfast cook and ECE (Early Childhood Education) teachers and In-charge, decided to serve breakfast an hour later. Instead of beginning the day with breakfast, Kindergarten students now complete their Circle Time in class and then proceeded to the Breakfast room. The results of this change has completely surpassed expectations! Students who were previously unable to finish their breakfast were now gobbling it up and the average time taken to complete a meal fell! In other amazing news, the program was expanded to provide Breakfast for our 33 students of Nursery too!

July also marked the beginning of another academic year which brought new admissions in Kindergarten at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School (SMB). It has been observed previously that students show resistance towards eating fruits. SMB held a Fruit Day Celebration filled with fun activities to encourage our new tots and old to enjoy fruits with the same enthusiasm as other foods! Parents of students also participated actively in the celebration, since healthy eating habits at home are a necessary reinforcement to the habits being developed in the program. The day started with performances by few of the students playing various seasonal fruits like mangoes, pears, peaches and apricots and grapes. During this, the students recited poems and songs about the fruits they were representing. Later, all students took part in a fruit coloring activity where they learnt about more fruits and made wristbands with the help of their parents. The day ended with all students getting served by their parents with seasonal fruits and fresh yogurt while their teachers explained the nutritional value of each fruit.

What’s on the Menu?

During this quarter, SMB’s and KPS’ students were served boiled eggs, omelets, seasonal fruits with yogurts, oats with yogurt and mild spices, porridge, aloo parathas (flatbreads made with whole wheat and stuffed with potatoes), chickpeas and lentils. Milk is a regular feature of the meal, along with stewed vegetables such as spinach, sweet potatoes, lady fingers, carrots, and bottle gourd. Fruits are also given in the form of shakes to satisfy the picky eaters. All effort is made to ensure processed foods are eliminated such as using dates as a sweetener instead of sugar and getting rid of store-bought bread. The focus is to provide a healthy balanced meal without compromising on taste.

About the Program

Zindagi Trust’s Breakfast Program aims to provide students with a nutritious locally sourced meal. At KPS, 250 students of Nursery, Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 were served. SMB served 300 students of Kindergarten only due to its much larger student body. The program seeks to integrate and build awareness of health, nutrition and environment among our young students. Our vision for the breakfast program is about inculcating healthy living habits in our students and we like to take this value beyond the breakfast room. We do not see the breakfast program in isolation from the rest of a students' intellectual development. As such, for long term impact, we have involved the school nurse, the gardeners, science teachers, canteen management and parents in the process of implementing the breakfast program.

Please consider making a donation to our breakfast program to continue supporting nutritious meals for children in Pakistan’s public schools!

Representing fruits while learning all about them
Representing fruits while learning all about them
Mothers of students watching during performances
Mothers of students watching during performances
Learning about names of fruits
Learning about names of fruits
DIY Wristbands
DIY Wristbands
Learning about the nutritional value of each fruit
Learning about the nutritional value of each fruit
Ending Fruit Day with yogurt and bananas
Ending Fruit Day with yogurt and bananas

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A kindergartener polishing off a boiled egg
A kindergartener polishing off a boiled egg

About the Program

Zindagi Trust’s Breakfast Program aims to provide students with a nutritious locally sourced meal to start the day. The program seeks to integrate and build awareness of health, nutrition and environment among our young students.

At Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School (KPS) in Karachi, breakfast was served this year to students of Kindergarten, first grade and second grade totalling 217 students. However, due to its larger student body, SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School (SMB) was only able to serve breakfast to their 280 kindergarten students.

Our vision for the breakfast program is about inculcating healthy living habits in our students and we like to take this value beyond the breakfast room. We do not see the breakfast program in isolation from the rest of a students' intellectual development. As such, for long term impact, we have involved the school nurse, the gardeners, science teachers, canteen management and parents in the process of implementing the breakfast program.

The Breakfast program has been tremendously successful. It has brought about a heartening improvement in the development and health of our young students. Teachers and staff report a decrease in absenteeism, fainting due to malnutrition, yawning during the class, and diminished concentration in studies and sports. Moreover, it has significantly boosted student admissions in the Early Childhood Development grades (ECD) at SMB.

Donate today to support 500 plus young children get a nutritious boost to start the day.

The weekly menu. All items are free from additives
The weekly menu. All items are free from additives
Drinking milk from steel mugs, instead of plastic
Drinking milk from steel mugs, instead of plastic
The chefs: constantly innovating healthy recipes
The chefs: constantly innovating healthy recipes
Having a meal together has improved social skills
Having a meal together has improved social skills
Ridged Gourd: From the school garden to the table
Ridged Gourd: From the school garden to the table

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Organization Information

Zindagi Trust

Location: Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zindagitrust
Project Leader:
Sana Kazmi
Karachi, Sindh Pakistan

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