Last year, we partnered with Cotton On Body to introduce Nutrition Mission – an education program that aimed to help prevent malnutrition – to the community of Busibo, Southern Uganda. 460 participants went through the inaugural program, but it’s estimated that 2000 family and community members benefited from the education passed on.
The positive impacts of Nutrition Mission surpassed our expectations, with women experiencing improved health, immunity and overall wellbeing, as well as learning the skills to provide an additional source of income for their families by selling baked goods. Another unexpected positive outcome of this project was the incredible friendship groups that formed among the women participating in the classes.
With such a successful launch of the initiative, we’re very excited to announce that Nutrition Mission is coming back for 2016! We’re on a mission alongside the Cotton On Body team to raise $100,000 and expand the powerful program to outreach villages in Southern Uganda. So we can bring this to life, Cotton On Foundation product sold in Cotton On Body stores in Australia and New Zealand during May and June will go toward the project, helping us empower women to create healthy and sustainable futures.
We sat down for a quick chat with Anne, a key program leader on-the-ground in Southern Uganda, to find out a little more about the impact Nutrition Mission has made.
Please explain the difference in the types of meals women are now preparing after the Nutrition Mission program.
Before: Food heavy in starch was eaten at breakfast, lunch and supper. There was a lack of variety in foods too. Common meals include matooke (cooked green banana), maize flour boiled and cassava with beans and peanut sauce (plain peanut flour in water boiled, no spices). These meals were given to the whole family, including babies. Mangoes and avocados where eaten in season but mangoes are spoiled and rotten a lot because they weren’t aware of storage techniques.
After: Since milk is very expensive for large families, children don’t drink milk. With the recipe of white sauce women are taught just to buy ½ a litre of milk, allowing them to make a sauce but encouraging the whole family to take on milk. We use tomatoes and pumpkin in our cooking and teach them to bake cakes. Pan cakes are easy to prepare and good for packing as a snack for children. Peanut cake is the highlight of every student. Traditionally only wealthy people are known to each peanut cake but we teach them how to make it themselves. Now we see vegetables served regularly, mainly local greens similar to spinach. Supper times are now also not so late and smaller lighter food is served at night which gives children a much better night sleep.
We teach them about food groups and the food pyramid. The importance of vitamins and minerals and preventing sicknesses using herbs and increased immunity through nutrition. We also teach lessons specific for pregnant and breastfeeding woman. We discuss the importance of drinking enough boiled water plus the most fun part, cooking and baking different recipes using local ingredients. Students have often never mixed ingredients before! Another important lesson is about hygiene in the home. Cleaning and learning about storing food and cooking utensils has also helped greatly. We teach them how to read and follow some simple recipes. Students take home a small recipe book with pictures for easy understanding in plastic pockets so they’re protected and last a long time.
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