"Investing in early childhood nutrition is a surefire strategy. The returns are incredibly high." - Anne M. Mulcahy
Each day, millions of children around the world are undernourished. To be exact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that about:
795 millions people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, which is 1 in 9, don't eat enough food on a daily basis to live a healthy life and suffers from chronic malnutrition in 2014 to 2016.
Malnutrition is the cause of 45 percent of the deaths of children under five years old.
In the developing world, 66 million primary children goes to school on an empty stomach and 23 millions of them are in Africa.
I know that I am privileged to be able to buy whatever food that I want and eat whenever I feel hungry but we all know that's not the case for so many underprivileged kids around the globe who don't have this luxury. So, when I was approach by Dave Chorlton from the Skip It Community Children's Food Programme if I wanted to write a piece about his organization in the hopes to bring awareness to the cause, without no hesitation, I said yes. We all know that kids who suffers from malnutrition are faced with many educational challenges and causes significant health problems.
Skip It Community was setup by a group of volunteers working to raise money for UK registered charities and focusing on children's projects around the world and starting in a slum area of Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
The concept is simple: 'Pause before you indulge and skip a treat to help another'.
Read my interview with Dave Chorlton to learn more about the Skip It Community Food Programme and find out how to donate and get involve.
"Sustainability is crucial in any poverty alleviation project." - Dave Chorlton
What is your role and how did you become involved in this organization?
Myself and a gentleman called Albert David who works in Pakistan for the British High Commission are both the founders of Skip It Community. I am very passionate about children's well-being and the children's poverty in Rawalpindi struck an emotional chord with me. I wanted to come up with a creative idea where donors could have something different from conventional donation methods. As opposed to a direct debit people can ‘skip’ unhealthy food at any time and in return donate that monetary value to the food programme.
How is Skip It Community governed?
Skip It Community is governed in the UK by working with UK registered charities and at present in Rawalpindi by a registered charity Support Children.
What's the progress you have seen so far in these children's life from the Skip It Community programme?
Although Skip It Community is still fairly new, the food programme has made a very positive impact on this kids. Many of these children eat only one meal per day and this also results in them not attending school due to malnutrition. Skip It Community provides that extra nutritious meal to ensure that children are eating healthy portions and obtaining essential vitamins. We have decided to hold the food programme at a local school and school attendance has now risen dramatically since introducing the food initiative.
Photo Credit: www.skipitcommunity.com
Skip It Community's first project is to raise funds for the Al Masoom Trust UK Registered charity #1061821. Can you tell us more about the Al Masoom Trust?
Al-Masoom Trust UK is working together with Support Children in Pakistan to alleviate child malnutrition and Skip It Community raises funds and awareness on this issue. The Al-Masoom International Foundation (Trust) was founded in 1989 to alleviate the suffering of the poor and needy, we especially focus on Women and Children. They focus on many International projects but their main focus is to help women and children. For further information please see http://almasoomtrust.org.uk/.
How much money is required monthly to attain the goal of feeding 1 meal a day to those kids?
In Rawalpindi it is costing £0.6 per meal for a child and £3.00 to feed a child a nutritious meal everyday at the school. We are soon hoping to expand our operations to other communities and other countries. Our priority at present is to maintain consistency in Rawalpindi and expand in that community first. Sustainability is crucial in any poverty alleviation project. As long as the children attend school regularly, are healthy and have adequate nutrition then they as adults can help their community in a big way in the future. Much of the funding to date has been from private individuals and partners and we are now working to gather more individual donations through our fun and flexible Skip It Community website. On here, you'll find an abundance of free blogs by experts on health and fitness to accompany your skips. Skip unhealthy food to stay healthy and in return donate to feed a child.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Teresa
How many kids have been fed so far with the Children's Food Programme?
So far we have managed to feed 165 children consistently each week and we as a team are thrilled with this. Consistency with these children is crucial and although we will expand soon we must first ensure Rawalpindi is getting solid results.
Photo Credit: www.skipitcommunity.com
In your opinion, what the government can and should do to help this causes and the poverty situation in Rawalpindi, Pakistan?
There are many things that the local governing body in Rawalpindi could do to help address the issues of children's malnutrition and education. I believe that by setting up an education program to educate adults and in particular women in this society could help adults with job prospects. In addition to this helping to educate and sponsor individuals in business and how to save money could go a long way in helping the family and community dynamics. This would then in turn help families with a more stable income and hence they could then support their children. I also think that there should be more local incentives at school for sustainable attendance such as the Skip It Community food program. Bodies and organizations need to work more closely to one another. These are just a few of many ideas that could be worked on and I hope to be involved with some of these initiatives in the future.
How can we be certain that our donations goes out for the kids?
Anyone who donates to Skip It Community will receive an email at the end of every month with photos and information on that months food programme as a thank you. We are working on a plan whereby once a donor has sent money to feed a child within 24/48 hours that donor will receive a photo of the child they have helped or a photo of that particular community food day. We want to find ways to connect our donors emotively with the children they have helped as it can make a huge difference to the donor. We want to hear back from our donors and we encourage them to email us via our contact page especially if they have a great idea to share.
Who decides what food to provide to the young boys and girls of that
community? Why there's not more of a complete meal given to them?
We work closely with the school Principal and Albert David to address the nutritional needs of the children. In this community the food choices are limited and we work with the best that is available. We wanted to create a meal with some crucial vitamins and also adequate proteins for children's growth. At present an average meal for the children has been:
1 Piece of fruit
1 Boiled egg
1 Fruit Juice
1 Glass of milk
Bread or Rice
We will also treat the children with biscuits towards the end of the school week. The above meal plan has been fairly consistent and will change from time to time to keep the children's nutrition balanced.
How does Skip It Community identify communities or individuals to work with?
Our first community in Rawalpindi was identified through my experience of traveling to Pakistan. Future communities will be identified by talking to individuals and charities and then followed up by a visit by the Skip It Community team. We want to help smaller to medium sized communities that are struggling which the larger scale charities and local governing bodies have not or struggle to address.
Where can I get more info about Skip It Community, it's volunteers and administration?
If you have any more questions please see our contact us page and we would love to hear from you. If you would like to volunteer or be involved please see our get involved section.
Hope you've enjoyed learning about the Skip It Community Children's Food Program. The future of our kids lies in our hands whether they are nearby or in other countries. Skipping a "treat" for us won't change anything in our lives but for these children, it will make all the difference in the world. To donate go to www.skipitcommunity.com. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to write us. Thank you!