the nutrition problem: Left-behind kids
In rural Taiwan, many children from underprivileged families are “left-behind kids,” living in villages with limited supervision while their parents travel to larger cities for work. Not having adequate caretakers means children fend for themselves for meals. As a result, they suffer from nutritional imbalance and meal-uncertainty: malnutrition problems that affect their growth and ability to learn.
These problems are most severe in aboriginal tribe communities. Contributing to these challenges are the remoteness of villages, many children being raised by single-parents, grandparents, and overworked parents, and poverty.
PARTNER & PROJECT LOCATION
World Vision is a large Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the world's children. They fight poverty and injustice in 90 countries around the world. In Taiwan, World Vision Taiwan (WVT) is helping indigenous communities with a nutrition program called Community Kitchens. The program trains village women to become licensed chefs, who then run the Community Kitchens, providing much-needed meals for the left-behind children of the villages. The women not only learn to cook, but they also learn to provide nutrition and healthy diets for children. This ensures children have a place to go at dinnertime, rather than fending for themselves and getting by on snacks or instant noodles every day.
Our partners, World Vision Taiwan (WVT), have established the Community Kitchens and gotten some traction with initial participants. Most village children are now being fed dinner each night. However, with more participation, the program could have a greater impact. For example, most caretakers allow their children to go eat at the kitchens, but they themselves do not participate. By participating, caretakers would gain essential knowledge and practice with providing healthy diets, which would ensure that children are better taken care of at home. Also, the produce currently used in the Community Kitchen is being purchased outside the village (WVT is providing full support). To sustain this essential program in the future, village farmers will need to provide the produce they grow to feed their children. Both of these challenges require behavior changes that Appleseed hopes to foster using our social marketing approach.
Applying our approach
Our field team lived in an Amis and Bunun tribal village called Kiwit Village. We met with families, checked on the health of kids, gathered insight into villagers' perceptions of World Vision's program, and attended the Community Kitchen dinners ourselves.
We created a strategy to increase caretaker involvement and prevent unintended consequences, such as children continuing to skip meals by using the Community Kitchen as an excuse to leave home and go play. The missing piece was a system for communicating with caretakers.
what we've achieved together
With Appleseed’s research and recommendations, World Vision Taiwan is now actively implementing a communication system with caretakers that will share schedules, hear concerns, and give a sense of ownership. Bridging this disconnect will help families better care for children at home, reduce the number of meals being skipped, and enable villagers to supply the ingredients used by the Kitchen, making the program more sustainable. The recommendations are not only improving what children eat in Kiwit, but also in every indigenous village where World Vision is launching the program.