The children in rural Sumba normally do not get any form of lunch pack or snack when they go to school. Even breakfast can be a random treat.
To combat this problem, we began the Sumba Foundation School Lunch Program in 2008. This nutrition program distributes vitamins to the school children and provides healthy lunches for students three times a week. In many cases, this is the most nutritious meal the children have all day.
Our three-day menu consists of two rice-based meals with mix vegetables and tempe or tofu and one protein, either eggs, chicken, or fish.
Once per week, we also make mung bean porridge for the children. Mung bean is a high-protein nut that we purchase from local farmers who grow it. To make the porridge, we combine mung bean with a milk broth, tapioca beads, and sweet potatoes.
Why do we provide school lunch? Because it …
- Provides a nutritious meal to growing children
- Motivates the students to stay in school longer and with better attendance
- Increases their ability to learn and their attention span
- Vastly improves their overall health and well-being
- Introduces knowledge of new foods and a healthy diet that they take back to their villages
- Instills the importance of a healthy diet for their entire lives
- Creates paying jobs for farmers in the community
- Over time, will create a new self-supporting market economy in the area
The staple diet in Sumba is primarily cassava, supplemented with corn and rice. Cassava is a low-protein starchy staple and although it is tasty and filling, it’s not a nutritious food. Long-term, a cassava diet results in chronic protein deficiencies. Because cassava is so prominent, educating the community about healthy diets is essential.
Since establishing it in 2008, we’ve continued to expand the School Lunch Program. When the project was initiated, we began with two schools where the children were chronically malnourished. Ten years later, school lunch is now provided on a rotating basis at 11 of the 22 primary schools we sponsor.
In May of 2016, we renovated the School Lunch Kitchen, expanding from four cooking stations to 16. We’re now providing over 2,600 primary school children with three high-protein meals per week.