The MTK model is a nutrition education tool which aims to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition. It improves diet and health outcomes in underserved and marginalised communities with various socioeconomic backgrounds.
The programme serves as a community hub for malnutrition prevention, health promotion and disease prevention. With grassroots action research, the MTK trains marginalised women to become micro-entrepreneurs and culinary health educators, with the potential to improve Nutrition-related Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) across multiple sectors of society.
The MTK model directly impacts the lives and livelihoods of participating communities and strengthens community resilience by facilitating knowledge around access to lower-cost healthy diets and associated information on adopting healthier dietary patterns, thereby improving food and nutrition security.
How the MTK works
The nutritionists, doctors and dieticians at the MTK study the local cuisine, food cultures and eating habits of a region and arrive at meal interventions that fulfil the dietary requirements of the community, contributing towards preventing nutrition related diseases. The MTK then travels across the city creating awareness about nutrition education and passing down these insights and recipes to the community.
To pass down nutritional knowledge and culinary skills from nutritionists to the people, the MTK uses a training method known as ‘See One-Do One-Teach One’ or a ‘SO-DO-TO’ training.
Step 1: Training in action - Qualified dieticians, doctors and nutritionists share their knowledge and skills by training local volunteers. They in turn pass these learning points on to the beneficiaries showing how to cook a nutritious meal and delivering simple dietary messages around this. This step leads to the creation of MTK Champions, ready to improve the diet of their community.
Step 2: The SODOTO model: The training process occurs in three steps; See one, Do one and Teach one. The “See one” step involves participants observing how to cook the meal, taking on board the process and nutrition advice given. “Do one” involves getting hands-on, cooking the meal themselves, again listening to the advice they would give and confirming their understanding. “Teach one” involves getting together with the community, and showing all that they have learned up to this point.
Step 3: By the end of three sessions, the participants are able to teach each other with their newfound knowledge and culinary skills. With some minor further training, they can establish a selling platform to sustain the project's impact, selling healthy food with a side dish of nutrition education.
Why do we need the MTK?
The initiative originated in the city of Kolkata, India in 2017. Much like the rest of the world, Kolkata struggled with the three overlapping and intertwined forms of under and over-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
NNEdPro performed landscape surveys and found significant micronutrient deficiencies in undernourished, slum dwelling populations and co-existing metabolic syndrome, the found cause was the high consumption of fast food as part of their diet, that often contained large amounts of pesticides.
The core scientific principles of tackling malnutrition are well studied. However, such knowledge is difficult to translate into practical advice that can be actioned by the broader population, due to mixed messages in mainstream media or the complex way science communities report their findings.
The Mobile Teaching Kitchen offers a way nutrition education can be delivered through training using practical demonstrations and verbal communication, thereby ensuring that areas with high levels of illiteracy can benefit. We have turned marginalised community members into culinary nutrition and health educators who can run a micro-enterprise that distributes healthy food along with knowledge and practical skills to the city workers and can bring revenue back to their communities.
With the success of the MTK in Kolkata, we are adapting and scaling the model to multiple locations, planning to reach more people and impact the health of more communities.
2017: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Award
2017: British Medical Association (BMA) Research Charities Award
2018: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Joint Award
2018: University of Cambridge Interdisciplinary Research Centre Project Incubation Award
2019: University of Cambridge Interdisciplinary Research Symposium 1st Prize
2019: Highly Commended - Emerald Interdisciplinary Research Awards
'Bhavishya Shakti: Empowering the Future': establishing and evaluating a pilot community mobile teaching kitchen as an innovative model, training marginalised women to become nutrition champions and culinary health educators in Kolkata, India.
Helena Trigueiro, Luck Buckner, Marjorie Lima do Vale, Sumantra Ray (2020). The Kolkata Mobile Teaching Kitchen Project- Assessment of the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of Mothers after participating in a Microenterprise Intervention Pilot.
Exploring the Efficacy of the Teaching Kitchen Model within the Urban Slum of Kolkata.