We all know what a preschooler or a four or five-year-old is. They have inexhaustible energy, too many questions, they want to climb, run, somersault, and they are inquisitive and want to try new things.
But this is different for preschoolers in Kandavalai (North Sri Lanka). They are often too tired, too weak and with very little energy to engage in any activities. More than anything, their little tummies are hungry.
Kandavalai is situated in the Kilinochchi district (North Sri Lanka) and is home to a community that struggles with severe poverty. 15% of the households in Kandavalai fall below the poverty line and majority of the population work as farmers and farm labourers.
With a soaring inflation in the country, families in Kandavalai have become even more economically vulnerable. Families have reduced their number of meals and the variety of food.
There are over 450 preschoolers and most of them don’t have enough to eat at home.
Preschool children are at a crucial age where they are growing physically, emotionally and psychologically. Receiving an adequate and nutritious meal during this time can affect their growth and development, avoiding malnutrition in the form of stunting, wasting and underweight.
The National School Meal Programme, established by the Women and Children’s Ministry, allocates LKR 30 (USD 0.10) per meal per child per day, in order to enable children to have at least one meal a day. However, with the current economic condition of the country, it has become a challenge to the Preschool Management Society to provide this meal within the allocated amount.
We are aiming to provide a nutritious meal every day during preschool hours for six months to 461 children who are currently enrolled across 11 preschools in Kandavalai.
Meanwhile, we will help preschools and families to grow nutrition gardens, so that they can have a continuous supply of fruits and vegetables. We will also train mothers and teachers to prepare meals without losing the essential nutrients, and ensuring hygiene.
Here is the meal plan:
Monday - Rice with dhal, spinach and sprats curry
Tuesday - Chickpea, cowpea or mungbeans with coconut scrape
Wednesday - Milk rice prepared with mungbeans, sambol and piece of fish
Thursday – Noodles with egg and vegetables
Friday - Mixed vegetable rice prepared with at least two vegetables, egg and dhal or soya curry
They will also get a different fruit for dessert every day!
Now, would you also like to gift a meal?