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

As the month of May approached, students were caught up in the humdrum of the academic year end exams - the older students prepared for their board examinations, and younger students for their assessments all the while attending their daily lessons. To keep students functioning at their full potential, Zindagi Trust ensured the delicious breakfast early morning before classes are delivered without any hindrances. It is important for our students to be rejuvenated through a nutritious breakfast, which is why providing them with a hearty meal in the morning is a priority for us. 

Over the last few months of spring and early summer, students were given a variety of appetising breakfast items. Mondays welcome boiled eggs with milk. On Tuesdays, students enjoy fruit smoothie and sliced potatoes. Wednesdays start with chicken mince with  green peas, potatoes alongside chapati. Thursdays students are served egg and mayonnaise chapati roll. Fridays commence with  potato and spinach gravy with chapati, while Saturdays welcome lentils with rice, followed by bananas. As usual, our competent kitchen staff ensures the meals are prepared in a clean and safe environment and children have fun while consuming it.  

There were over 6,300 meals during April and May for early childhood education students at SMB Fatima Jinnah School, whereas nearly half the number was provided at Khatoon-e-Pakistan School. Most of the month of May and the entirety of June were part of the summer break for students. During the month of June, a summer camp was organised where cooking classes were held and secondary school students learned easy to make healthy recipes for breakfast. Our school hallways have welcomed back students with the commencement of August, and with it, resumed the breakfast program in full swing.

A few parents even made the effort of writing an appreciation letter to the SMB Fatima school administration to convey how grateful they are to have such a program in place. One parent wrote, “My daughter studies in KG-2 at your school and she loves the environment and safety the school provides her with. Personally, the incredible feature of your school that stands out for me is the breakfast program. The breakfast given to the children is filled with nutrition that is integral for their health, growth and nourishment. I am beyond grateful to the school administration for letting my child be a part of the school and benefiting from its various facilities and programs.”

As part of Zindagi Trust’s admission policy, the administration of both schools- Khatoon-e-Pakistan and SMB Fatima Jinnah consults the parents regarding  any possible allergies, pre-existing conditions or food problems of their children so the menu can be prepared accordingly. Measures such as these ensure the breakfast program functions smoothly for all students and Zindagi Trust continues to spread smiles through hearty meals.

Students in the Breakfast Room - SMB Fatima Jinnah
Students in the Breakfast Room - SMB Fatima Jinnah
Appreciative Letter From Parent
Appreciative Letter From Parent
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Students Standing in a Queue Collecting Their Meal
Students Standing in a Queue Collecting Their Meal

With the onset of a new year and all of our students aged 12 and above vaccinated for COVID-19, the new academic term started on a positive note. Like Zindagi Trust’s academic and non-academic programs, the breakfast project too commenced in full swing.

The breakfast program caters to over 700 students with nutritional and appetising meals every morning at two of our adopted government schools . The beneficiaries of this program are students from kindergarten to grade 1 in SMB Fatima Jinnah School, and kindergarten to grade 2 in Khatoon-e-Pakistan School (KPS).

The breakfast menu is crafted with careful consideration of student nutritional needs, and is updated according to different seasons. Fresh seasonal fruits are essential to the menu throughout the year, while items like soup and porridge are available during the colder months whereas summer welcomes refreshing milkshakes, yoghurt and daal chawal (lentils and rice) to combat Karachi’s heat.

The health of our students takes precedence in decision making hence factors like infections or price hikes can modify the menu. Recently, beef was temporarily removed from the menu when a viral infection broke out among cows. Similarly, artificial sugar is banned at the schools as it is reported to make children hyper-aggressive and is not very nutritious. 

At SMB Fatima Jinnah, the breakfast maids ensure that students with different religious backgrounds are provided with a separate menu on request, which encourages tolerance and inclusivity. Moreover, to prevent food wastage and to secure student health, leftovers are sent to the health room every day to be given to children of other grades reporting sick or reporting symptoms of fatigue.

The school teachers and staff play an active role in facilitating the young students. The ECE-I class teacher from SMB Fatima Jinnah motivates students to finish their meals by giving them stars and stickers as positive reinforcement. The breakfast maid ensures students enjoy the breakfast experience so she narrates different stories to them to gauge their interest. At KPS, teachers and maids sit down with the students who are not able to finish their meals and successfully motivate them to finish the remaining food. 

Parental involvement and feedback is crucial to the success of the breakfast program. They are consulted regarding their children’s food allergies and special attention is given to students who have a health condition that requires a different meal. At the time of admissions, parents are introduced to the breakfast program and are eager for their children to participate in it. They generally have positive feedback for the program; a few motivated parents even approach the school for the recipe of their child’s favourite meal at school.

Currently, Zindagi Trust is motivated to further improve the breakfast program. One of the first few urgent tasks of the organisation is to revamp the breakfast room at SMB Fatima Jinnah, including getting new furniture, and putting up wall frames.  

To measure the success of the program, our team is determined to work on a monitoring and evaluation report for the breakfast program that will cover three main things: the analysis of the nutritional status of children at school, further testing of any significant differences in the nutritional status of beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the breakfast program, and a comparative analysis of the prevalence of stunting, wasting, obesity at our school versus district, province, and country. Producing this report will be a significant step in strengthening our breakfast program through intensive data collection and analysis. 

Zindagi Trust is able to continue the breakfast program through the generous support of our donors, and we hope to deliver on our plans and constantly strive towards improving the health and wellbeing of our children.

ECE Students Enjoying Banana Milkshake
ECE Students Enjoying Banana Milkshake
Students Sharing a Laugh Between Meals
Students Sharing a Laugh Between Meals
Maids Preparing Breakfast Meals at SMB School
Maids Preparing Breakfast Meals at SMB School
Students in the Breakfast Room
Students in the Breakfast Room
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Students enjoying breakfast
Students enjoying breakfast

With fall came good tidings and delight as students returned to their classrooms in September 2021. Students attended physical classes, interacted with their teachers, and eagerly resumed their learning as we witnessed the possible return to normal post-covid lockdowns.

Special programs like Art, Sports, and Music were also restored to their glory. Similarly, the breakfast program at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School and SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Govt Girls School came back with the same vigour. There were a few modifications, with another grade added to the breakfast program and a new carefully planned menu for the winters, but our students remained their same excited selves who looked forward to the daily breakfast.

Beginning in September 2021, the breakfast program extended to cater the first graders of SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School. This means that kindergarten to grade II students at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Girls School, and kindergarten to grade I students at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School can now enjoy a nutritious meal daily before their school day begins. As a result of the breakfast program extension this year, both schools combined provide breakfast to 710 students every day.

ECE I teacher Ms. Ambreen and ECE II teacher Ms. Zakira informed that the type of food students most enjoy are vegetable based salan and paratha, which are two of the many varieties on our breakfast menu. The winter menu includes egg, milk, soup, palak anda, and roti. The hardworking kitchen staff takes joy in preparing fresh meals in a hygienic environment. Abida, a cook at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School has been working here for eleven years and is adored by the students. She cooks and serves delicious meals for the students every day and often encourages them for second servings.

Teachers and the kitchen staff encourage students to thank god before they begin eating. They say a prayer as a community, gladly devour the breakfast, and make their way to their classes with full tummies. According to Ms. Zakira, some parents cannot afford healthy food for their children, so it helps them budget their expenses as their children are provided with an option at school. Even if parents can afford nutritious food, students often do not eat breakfast at home, and the breakfast program motivates them to start their day with a healthy meal. By watching their peers eat on the school campus under the supervision of the teachers, students are more likely to join and take part in the program. 

Our Breakfast Program has had a positive impact on students’ class attendance as well as their overall energy. Students look forward to having breakfast with their friends and learning about the nutritional value of the food on their plates. Therefore, the breakfast activity makes for an overall wholesome experience for the students. The food acts as a fuel for the day, the environment as a place to mingle with fellow peers, and the teacher supervision as a reminder of the importance of food.

Breakfast Room at Khatoon-e-Pakistan
Breakfast Room at Khatoon-e-Pakistan
Abida preparing breakfast for the students
Abida preparing breakfast for the students
Kindergarten students enjoying their meal at SMB
Kindergarten students enjoying their meal at SMB
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Students from KPS enjoying their breakfast meal
Students from KPS enjoying their breakfast meal

Since we updated you back in April, there has been a prolonged lull in the form of school closures, stretched over the course of the last few months. Regardless of this, the invaluable impact of our Breakfast Program has not waned, as seen in the active participation of our government teachers.

In the past three months, students were busy with exam preparation at their homes with online classes and subsequently gave their examinations. Schools have yet to start in person, however when the new school year will begin in person, their will be an incoming batch of kindergarten students – providing us an opportunity to provide physical and mental nourishment to new students with our Breakfast Program.

To decide the menu for the Breakfast Program, there are certain food staples which are alternated and cooked differently to keep students interested. These include milk, fruits, yoghurt and eggs. This is often accompanied by fun dishes like channa chaat and mashed potatoes.

Students graduating out of the class are so concerned whether or not they will still be able to have breakfast at school, it is such an important aspect of their time in class!” – Uzma

Uzma is a Kindergarten teacher at SMB Fatimah Jinnah Government Girls School which operates under the management of Zindagi Trust. Uzma has been an avid contributor in making the Breakfast Program a success at the school. Her love for her work as a teacher for the junior classes is very evident as she mentions her work. As young students often need more guidance and attention, Uzma finds that all her time is spent with her students, whether she is teaching or sitting and having her lunch. More than anything she enjoys the ability to find her inner child while interacting with the students.

The Breakfast Program is very important to Uzma. Seeing the students come with empty stomachs she felt it was a huge necessity that proper nutrition was made available to them. She works very attentively to ensure that all the students receive a healthy dose of their breakfast meal every morning and often takes the initiative to compensate any student who is unable to bring their lunch from home. “I look out for students who cannot bring their own lunch, they feel so bad that other students have theirs so I go and get some for them.

Since the online classes it has been very tough for Uzma to connect with students but she tries her best, often asking them what meals they have had for breakfast. As the new academic year has started and a new batch of students have joined Uzma, students are often hesitant to share with her. She tries to prompt them by telling them her meals and they seem more comfortable in opening up. According to Uzma some students tend to eat halwa/puri which is not a very nutritious meal and others do not have a morning meal. Uzma is eagerly awaiting that students will return to school so that she will be able to see them in person and help facilitate their healthy eating behaviors through the Breakfast Program.

Breakfast meal served at our SMB school
Breakfast meal served at our SMB school
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Meals given at SMB Fatimah Jinnah Gov Girls School
Meals given at SMB Fatimah Jinnah Gov Girls School

Our last update for you in December featured our caretaking staff which works tirelessly to provide delicious and nutritious meals to our students. Since then, the schools reopened in January and the students from both schools, once again arrived to receive their breakfast meals. During the cold weather in the beginning of this quarter, students continued to receive the same menu as the last quarter however, as the weather changed in these months, our breakfast menu was modified to befit the warmer spring season.

The menu included milk with boiled eggs, porridge, mashed potatoes and bananas. Students attended school in staggered slots of 50% attendance, with one group of students arriving on one day and the second group on the next day. This protocol required that students remain in their classroom for their meals, as opposed to sitting together in our Breakfast Room, which took longer to serve them the meals, but was similar to the COVID 19 safety protocols followed last year.

April, unfortunately, saw the closures of schools once again due to the third COVID 19 wave, at this time, here’s what parents had to say about the impact of the Breakfast Program and school on their lives and their children. Waseem, the father of Afsara – a KG 2 student enrolled at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School said “We feel very secure and satisfied by the Program. It makes my daughter so happy that when she comes home, she makes us happy.” He added that the school was providing an important platform for the two of his daughters that are enrolled there and he is hoping that his third can also go there as she enjoys biking and activities like sports which are promoted at the school.

“It’s a relief and comfort to me that my daughter gets breakfast at school.” says Nisa, the mother of Wahiba, another student from KG 2 at SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School. She adds that when Wahiba comes home, she tells her mother what she eats in school in the Breakfast Program and asks that she may make it for her at home. Zaib Un Nisa said that she makes it a point to go to school and ask how the breakfast meals are made, so that she can replicate them for her daughter at home as well.

Students miss school and long to once again wake up eagerly, bursting with energy to look forward to the rest of the day. The parents are also looking forward to a healthy return to schools for their children, so that their daughters can continue to thrive in the ever nurturing environment in the school, which is achieved in part through the Breakfast Program.

A student at SMB enjoys a breakfast meal at school
A student at SMB enjoys a breakfast meal at school
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Organization Information

Zindagi Trust

Location: Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zindagitrust
Project Leader:
Faiq Ahmed
Karachi, Sindh Pakistan
$35,592 raised of $60,000 goal
 
473 donations
$24,408 to go
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