World Food Day 2014

On a day that celebrates the importance of food, it’s important to recognise that millions of people around the world still struggle for basic nutrition. But Compassion centres teach children living in poverty about the importance of eating good food and help them improve their nutrition. One centre in India decided when you can’t buy it, grow it! And the registered children have enthusiastically taken to gardening.

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Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.

Established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 1979, World Food Day aims to strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty, and draw attention to achievements in food security and agricultural development.

According to UNICEF, people who are well nourished are more likely to be healthy, productive and able to learn. Good nutrition benefits families, their communities and the world as a whole. Malnutrition is, by the same logic, devastating. It blunts development, saps the productivity of everyone it touches and perpetuates poverty.

The 2014 World Food Day theme of family farming has been chosen by the UN to raise the profile of family farming. It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

Some Compassion child development centres, especially in rural and remote regions, are also growing food to supplement registered children’s healthy nutrition.

Grow your own way

Two girls in vegetable garden in India
One Compassion child development centre in India is committed to teaching the children the importance of including healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables as part of their daily diet. Their teaching method? Cultivating a vegetable garden at the centre!

The local government of Kerala initiated a vegetable garden network among many schools and Latha, a local Compassion staff member, approached the government to join the venture. The authorities agreed, and gave them vegetable seeds and even financial support to prepare the land and purchase further seeds and fertiliser.

The local church gave 50 per cent of the land to the centre for vegetable growing. Thirty different varieties of seeds were sown in the garden including tomatoes, cabbage, beans, cucumbers, spinach and many more.

Nearly 80 per cent of the children registered with the child development centre are actively participating in the vegetable garden project. Each child has a row of garden beds with their name on a placard. They have taken ownership of their patch; they water the plants, clean and maintain them and even use techniques of vermicomposting that helps convert vegetable waster to nutrient-rich humus that can be used as fertilisers.

In 2013, during a state level competition of vegetable gardens, the centre came in first place—up against top schools, and private medical and engineering colleges—and earned a monetary prize.

The vegetables are not only used to prepare nutritious meals for children at the centre, but the remaining vegetables are sent home with the children to help feed their families. Helping out with the vegetable garden at the centre has motivated the children to create gardens of their own at home and have been given the seeds to start!

The centre vegetable garden has become so popular that it has enjoyed media spotlight and had many people from the community come to visit.

“Our next aim is to build a healthy village; we want a vegetable garden in every house,” says one child from the centre.

“The fact that the children of other schools are given training at our vegetable garden gives us a great sense of pride,” says another.

Sow the seeds of change

A boy in a vegetable garden

Veggie seeds can go a long way to providing nutritious meals to children and families living in poverty. For just $20, you can buy veggie seeds through Gifts of Compassion to help other children just like these make a lasting nutritional difference.
Words by Jayaseelan Enos, Ryan Johnson and Monique Wallace

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