Educating young people about food and nutrition brings many health and other benefits. In an effort to improve food education in Bangladeshi schools, FAO has developed the Nutrition Challenge Badge.
The Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH) project launched the badge, in collaboration with the BIID Foundation, at three schools to coincide with Universal Children’s Day.
The Challenge Badges, which cover a range of topics, support educational activities. The Nutrition Challenge Badge manual is designed to help children and adolescents explore basic concepts of good nutrition, and healthy and environmentally friendly eating habits and lifestyles. It also encourages young people to raise awareness in the community about the importance of healthy diets and lifestyles.
MUCH Chief Technical Advisor, Naoki Minamiguchi, who is Japanese, showed off his chopstick skills to some children and spoke about the similarity and differences between eating habits in Bangladesh and his home country.
He said: “In Bangladesh and Japan, our staple food is rice. Here, we eat from a plate whereas in Japan we eat in from smaller bowls.
“Japanese meals are relatively more nutritious with rice, soup, fish, three side dishes, and pickles. We even eat raw fish, which is accessible due to our hygiene habits, first-rate supply chain and our cold climate. I hope you can also consume fish like Japanese do in the future due to improvement in the fish industry.”
Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh, remarked on the importance of education. He said: “Every day, as we tackle issues with agriculture and livelihoods, forestry, and weather, and availability of nutritious food, we face two challenges: what to choose and how to educate people on choosing the best, the right thing.
“The Nutrition Challenge Badge has incredible opportunities to facilitate this. It educates you firstly on healthy eating, sustainable production and purchase. Secondly, its helps participants to inform their community about these good practices and change their attitude and behaviour.”
MUCH Senior Nutrition Advisor, Lalita Bhattacharjee highlighted the prevalence of undernutrition in adolescent girls along with the emerging challenges of obesity and poor dietary diversity.
The three participating schools were the Shaheed Zia Girls High School and Itakhola High School, both in Nilphamari district, Rangpur division and the Dhamrai Girls High School in Manikganj, Dhaka division.
From December 2019, MUCH will roll out the Nutrition Challenge Badge, and an e-learning module, to 20 schools in Sylhet, Dhaka, Rangpur, Chattagram, Mymensingh, and Rajshahi. The activation will be done in collaboration with BIID Foundation.
MUCH is implemented by FAO in collaboration with the Food and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) of the Ministry of Food and with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU).