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Food for Happiness January 2020: ¥130,000 for Nutrition Workshop in Kandal, Cambodia

By The byFood Team
January 4, 2021
Updated: January 4, 2021

In January 2020, ByFood raised funds for Nom PoPok, a social enterprise that aims to combat malnutrition and obesity in Cambodia. The goal was to raise ¥130,000 to provide a 4-month nutrition workshop and healthy snacks to 3rd and 5th graders at Tachou Elementary School (80 students). Thanks to your bookings, the funds were raised within the month. 

Cambodian girl eating a snack provided by Nom PoPok

The objective of this project was to teach students about the role of nutrition in maintaining health. Through the workshop, the students would become aware of the importance of a balanced diet and learn to practice healthy eating habits. To this end, two 1-hour nutrition classes were planned every other week (one lesson for each grade level), over four months. 

In addition to holding classes for 3rd and 5th-grade students, Nom PoPok would also provide them with healthy snacks during each lesson. These snacks would be made primarily from local ingredients familiar to Cambodian children, such as soybeans, moringa, and sweet potatoes. Not only are they substitutes for everyday sweets, but they would also be teaching materials that consider the richness and nutrition of the ingredients in the students’ environment. 

The contents of the nutrition workshop submitted by Nom PoPok were as follows (subject to revision in consideration of the students' reactions and the school situation). 

Cambodian children drawing during a nutrition workshop

Nutrition Workshop Syllabus:

1. A Balanced Diet

Students will be given coloring pages with pictures of various ingredients, and the teacher will ask them to color the ones they often eat. This lesson will help them recognize if there is a bias in their eating patterns (based on the three-color food group). 

2. Why Eat? What is the Function of Food?

Students will learn about how biased eating habits negatively affect their bodies by learning about the three-color food group (classified into six colors for 5th-grade students) using real ingredients and food cards. They will play games, learning to identify ingredients in the same color groups and deepening their understanding of food groups. Lastly, they will learn how to eat a well-balanced meal, with a variety of foods belonging to every group.

3. Healthy Eating Game

Students will be split into groups of five and play a version of sugoroku that allows players to advance each time they eat one food. This game will encourage the children to implement the knowledge that they gained during the last workshop and encourage them to practice healthy eating habits. 

4. Sugar and Salt Consumption

Cambodians unknowingly ingest a large amount of sugar and salt from prepackaged snacks and meals. In this lesson, students will learn about the long-term health problems this can cause, find out the acceptable intake of sugar and salt, and discover how much is added to the food around them. After this lesson, the students will be able to make educated food choices.

5. Preparation of Food Classification Table (Game)

The Cambodian Ministry of Health has published a food taxonomy for school-age children. Based on this, the organizers made an educational game, using food cards, that children can continue to play even after the 4-month course is over. These teaching materials will be kept in the school library so that the students can play the game at any time. 

6. Student Presentations

Students will make presentations about what they learned and felt during the project, reflecting on the sugoroku game, food classification table, and other lessons. Students will also declare their future eating resolutions. 

Classroom of children in Cambodia during a workshop with Nom Popok

Food For Happiness November 2020 Update from Nom PoPok

From September to October 2020, Nom PoPok held a nutrition workshop for students at Tachou Elementary School in Cambodia. Below is a summary of their 12-page report.

Chronic malnutrition among children is one of the most serious issues in Cambodia. About 30% of schoolchildren and children under 5 years old have stunted growth because they cannot access nutritious food. Children in Cambodia often consume very high calories and a lot of sugary and salty snacks. To combat this, Nom PoPok has started diet and nutrition workshops for children. 

With donations from byFood’s Food for Happiness program, we held lessons for a total of sixty 3rd and 5th-grade students at Tachou Elementary School in Kandal Province of Cambodia, with the aim of communicating the impact of diet and nutrition on their bodies. 

We initially expected eighty students to participate in this workshop at school but plans changed due to COVID-19. In the end, we held the workshop once a week starting on September 1st.

By the end of the workshop, the students learned the necessity of a balanced diet through painting and other activities. They could also understand the food group classification system which was published by the Ministry of Public Health in Cambodia.

1st Session

A student wearing a mask holds up a color coded picture with different food groups during a nutrition workshop by Nom Popok

During the 1st session, we spent time investigating whether or not the students consume a balanced diet in their daily life, visualizing the basic food groups with colored pencils.

From this workshop, it was revealed that most students don’t consume enough vegetables, and over-consume sugar and salt, choosing snacks and juice instead of a moderate breakfast.

After the lesson, we distributed steamed bread with sweet potato, moringa, and roasted soybean flour. 

2nd Session

Crispy cookies from Nom Popok, an NGO funded by Food for Happiness

During the second session, we played a game using food cards to explain the color classification system for food groups.

The 5th-grade students quickly grasped the concept of the three-color classification system, but it took more time for the 3rd-grade students to understand.

In the second half of the session, we played a food-related game with dice and distributed the snack of the day: wheat flakes and black sesame cookies, which are good for practicing chewing thoroughly.

3rd Session

Outdoor classroom in Cambodia

In the third session, we played a food game with dice and the student realized that they consume much fewer vegetables in their daily diet than they should. 

The students in 5th grade understood quite quickly and they could easily recognize a healthy vs. unhealthy diet. 

The snack of the day was steamed bread with corn. This was also a teaching aid to help students recognize that although corn tends to be classified as a vegetable (green group), it is actually in the yellow group.  

4th Session

Cambodian students at the front of the classroom during a workshop by NGO Nom Popok

During the fourth session, students learned how much sugar and salt are contained in the snacks and juices which they consume in their daily life. They were encouraged to think about solutions to avoid overconsumption.

What surprised them the most was that they could reach their sugar intake limit with just one bottle of juice! The students found a solution by sharing the juice with their friends to avoid consuming too much sugar by themselves.

The snack of the day was chiffon cake flavored with roasted soybean flour, moringa, and coconut instead of sugar. 

5th Session

A Cambodian boy watches as a girl colors during a nutrition workshop

For the fifth session, we made teaching materials to review with the class after the end of the workshop.

The 3rd-grade students made food cards based on the three-color classification system for food groups, while the 5th-grade students also made the food cards for the six-color system.

For the snack of the day, students could choose either pumpkin buckwheat cookies or wheat flake cookies. 

6th Session

Cambodian students giving a presentation during a nutrition workshop

During the last session, the students made a presentation based on past sessions.

We originally planned to invite students in other grades, but this was halted due to COVID-19. On the other hand, four families came to see the presentation. It meant a lot that they were interested in school activities.

After the presentations, we held a quiz tournament. The correct answer rate was 60%, lower than we had expected. While the typical questions and answers were answered smoothly, the students were confused by more complicated questions. We felt that this was an educational issue in Cambodia and that the students require more training in applied skills. 

For the snack of the day, students could choose between chiffon cake, “bolo,” and two types of buckwheat cookies.

Conclusion

Overall, we heard a lot of positive comments from the students, despite needing to adjust the plan due to COVID-19. We were able to show their teacher various teaching methods besides lectures, and our assistant staff also performed well as instructors. 

We ended up achieving great progress from this workshop project and warmly appreciate your support.

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The byFood Team
Sharing our love of Japanese cuisine and culture, with the mission of spreading happiness through food.
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