TIGR2ESS-FP6: The Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) in India Series
Authors: Harmanpreet Kaur, Wanja Nyaga, Sarah Armes
Editors: Sumantra (Shumone) Ray, Sucheta Mitra, Ramya Rajaram
Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge and thank key individuals particularly - Lord Diljit Rana, and Urmil Verma; organisations - Cordia Group of Institutes, Sanghol; Lord Rana Foundation Charitable Trust, and NNEdPro, for their time and resources towards this project.
With the success of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) project in Kolkata, the innovative initiative has since been adapted in different forms, throughout the country and all over the globe. One such adaptation was made in the land of five rivers – PUNJAB.
MTK was inaugurated in Sanghol, Punjab at Cordia Group of Institutes and surrounding rural areas, in 2017. Sanghol is a place of great archaeological importance and also happens to be the birthplace of the NNEdPro Global Patron, Lord Diljit Rana (OBE). The project has been the rural replication of the MTK project in Kolkata, with further scope for cross-sectional study between two groups that include:
1. Mothers working in the educational institute of Cordia
2. Mothers residing in the villages around the Institute
In 2019, 12 student volunteers, were trained in imparting Nutritional Education. Under their supervision, 10 mothers from the institute and 7 mothers from the nearby village ‘Pallo Majra’ were trained for dissemination of the skills and education in the surrounding areas to empower women and upgrade the health status of their children. But the first wave of COVID-19 led to a loss in connection with most of the student trainees due to various reasons such as academic progression. This also impacted the enthusiasm and interest of the community in the project, which translated to decreased involvement Post Covid. This brought the project to a plateau, that warranted completed rebuilding and retraining of the team for further phases.
In the year 2021, new volunteers (students & teachers) were selected and the trained women from both the sub-sets were reapproached, leading us to relocate 5 of the in-house mothers. Village mothers could not be mobilised, as after the first wave, community women got involved in various programs initiated by both the State and Central government. Hence, the first, See One session for the newly inducted volunteers and Do One session for the old in-house mothers had been successfully conducted in November.
A session with the team - pre and post-COVID-19
Due to a lack of involvement from the latter subset of women, a plan was devised to move into phase III of MTK directly from Phase-I, in March 2022 with consent from the college authorities and women keen to be attached to the project, mainly the smaller group of the former subset. The plan was to initiate a tiffin service or alternatively open a canteen serving healthy and nutritious snacks while disseminating knowledge to the consumers by in-house women with assistance from a few small entrepreneurs in the villages, who served homemade food to students/employees residing in their respective villages.
This plan was made with the intention of fully realising the idea behind MTK and proving an opportunity for the women to follow through with their training and create a much larger impact through the dissemination of nutrition education to the wider communities attached to the villages.
Due to several unavoidable factors, the plan couldn’t be executed and hence in September 2022, NNEdPro handed over participation certificates to people who were involved in the project since the beginning, along with a series of probable next steps, that they can follow to move forward with the MTK microenterprise in Punjab at Sanghol.
Although our rural replication has come to an end this year, we hope to keep providing strategic support to women for being an entrepreneur or change agents for the community. Taruna Narang, the project facilitator from Cordia institute on behalf of all volunteer teachers mentioned that- “this project helped most of them to reconnect with the community influencer part of their self, which motivated them to be more connected with the students and learn new things about the community around them”.One of the hospitality departments when reflecting on the program said that - “they never realised while putting together ingredients for a dish that they form such an important part for a healthy life”.
Certificate Distribution on 10th September 2022
It was a newer and enriching experience for both teams as we were able to understand the social and cultural setup in a rural area of Punjab and how it differs from urban areas in Kolkata. We look forward to incorporating the acquired experience into areas of new development for better outcomes in the future.