Keeping Children Nourished

1 week ago

Access to adequate nutrition remains challenging in Vietnam, especially for children. Nearly 1 in 5 children under five is stunted, and severe acute malnutrition affects over 200,000 children annually, with 90% going untreated.[1] In addition, over 20% of children in Vietnam are anemic and lack essential vitamins and minerals. This increases the risk of permanent physical and cognitive damage, poor school performance, and premature death due to infections.

COV tackles this issue through its soup mix program, ensuring children have nutritious meals at school regardless of their home situation. The program started at the kindergarten in 2015 and goes beyond just providing food; it includes training for staff on understanding different soup varieties, proper storage, portion calculation, and cooking. This ensures children receive delicious, complete meals.

The school’s cook, Le Thi Hanh, shows the dried soybeans that are cooked and processed into soy milk for the kindergarteners.

Additionally, since 2018, COV has provided dried soy milk, made fresh on-site in the school’s kitchen by a dedicated cook three times a week. The soup mix and soy milk programs promote healthy eating habits, focusing on balanced diets, food safety, and hygiene in meal preparation.

Sơn Tân School acts as a distribution hub for Children of Vietnam’s soy milk program in the region. The cook produces surplus soy milk and transfers it into portable, insulated containers, which are then transported to nearby schools via motorbike, expanding the program’s reach in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Sơn Tân kindergarten also functions as a distribution center for the soy milk program, with the cook preparing extra batches for other schools in the region, extending the nutritional reach efficiently.

After nap time, groggy kindergarteners enjoy cups of warm, delicious soy milk, a highlight of their day, evident by the satisfied milk mustaches and smiles. They then return to their classrooms for group play sessions, solving puzzles, exercising creativity, and practicing socialization.

Every day at Sơn Tân kindergarten, children line up to receive their freshly made soy milk. Soy milk is protein-rich and loaded with important vitamins and nutrients, making it a highly effective tool for combating malnutrition
Soy milk mustaches are a great indicator of full bellies and happy children.

At 3 p.m., parents arrive. The children filter out, one-by-one; sometimes in groups of two, with parents in tow. They walk down the street towards their homes; or mount up on motorbikes—entire families on one—and then take off. With full bellies and something to look forward to the next day; and the next.

This is COV’s mission in action, one child, one family, one community at a time.

[1] UNICEF // “Country Office Annual Report 2022”
[2] UNICEF // “Nutrition” in Vietnam

Chris Brinlee, Jr.