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Nutrition Education: Unlocking the Local Knowledge

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Chipiriro Mkumba

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” – Food Matters

Food is thought of as what man consumes, not what the body requires. In most rural communities, filling one’s belly full is the ultimate goal of eating, rather than nutrition. This is not dependent on age; thus, food for children and elders is usually the same and cooked similarly. During a child growth monitoring exercise conducted at an under-five clinic in my community, the average weight of under-five children had dropped significantly and most children were malnourished. After a thorough inquiry, the clinic discovered most of the meals that mothers prepared did not contain all the essential nutrients required for child growth and development. After learning about the problem, we embarked on three weeks of food preparation training and demonstrations to teach mothers how to prepare nutritious meals for their children. Throughout the food preparation demonstrations, I was amazed to see my community was rich in diverse foods, which when utilized effectively can help to end child malnutrition. This revelation led me back to a quote from Food Matters, “to eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” People in my community lacked the knowledge to combine and prepare the available food to produce nutritious meals for their children.

Another child growth monitoring exercise was conducted after two weeks of our food preparation demonstrations to track any changes in average weight or malnourishment. We were delighted to see that most children had gained weight, and the changes were due to the food preparation demonstrations. The food preparation demonstrations helped mothers to realize the benefits of preparing nutritious meals for their children using locally available foods and that living in a rural community should not be an excuse for child malnutrition.

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