Over an eventful fortnight in August 2019, NNEdPro shared learnings and knowledge from our mobile teaching kitchen microenterprise model in 3 regions: Kolkata, Sanghol and Delhi. The purpose was to consolidate, collaborate, spread awareness and extend the reach of the project so it can be adapted to other regions.
We conducted field visits, engaged in meetings and organised two extensive workshops to develop a novel theory of change in combating malnutrition in India proactively considering both agriculture as well as health systems.
Thank you for the efforts from our team in India and the UK including Professor Sumantra Ray and Jørgen Torgerstuen Johnsen from the NNEdPro Global Centre who travelled to three cities in India to conduct the biannual workshops of the NNEdPro Regional Network in India; the newly formed ‘Bhavishya Shakti’ cooperative society; the Inner Wheel; Remedy Clinic Study Group; Cordia College in Sanghol, Punjab, and the Cambridge University TIGR2ESS (Transforming India’s Green Revolution-2 for Empowerment and Sustainable Supplies) Programme.
Highlights from Kolkata
Our journey started and ended in the City of Joy, Kolkata. We spent time with our collaborators from the Inner Wheel and our NNEdPro Kolkata team and Debashis Chakraborty and Sanchita Banerjee- the India team’s data and nutrition specialists-to map out the field visits to come to two of Kolkata's many slums; RG Kar and Chetla.
Launched in 2018, the Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) project not only stops at empowering mothers with skills and knowledge on cooking healthy, sustainable and nourishing meals but is a uniquely innovative project in that it builds capacity by empowering them with transferable skills to provide knowledge to pass onto others within their community and beyond.
creating grassroots leaders: How our model breaks barriers & crosses socio-economic boundaries through food, nutrition & Community
The MTK meals are made using locally available ingredients which are nutritionally balanced, affordable and turned into tasty and appealing. A range of meals are taught through a “See one, Do one, Teach One” model, providing education using a more traditional story-telling or practical method that circumvents literacy barriers. The skilled and knowledgeable mothers transfer learning to their family, friends and throughout neighbourhoods crossing socioeconomic boundaries.
Why did we develop into a micro-enterprise model?
Six months after the initial launch the sentiment of the vast majority of the mothers was that they were emotionally invested in the initiative and wished to invest their full attention and energy into making the Mobile Teaching Kitchens initiative more sustainable and successful. This would not be possible for our mothers without a sustainable source of livelihood.
Recognising the engagement and enthusiasm of the women and mothers involved, the project developed into the current micro-enterprise model. The mothers now don't just cook but are building the skills and capacity to sell the food they create, as well as playing the role of educators by providing awareness and education to Kolkata's city workers who are increasingly reliant on fast food leading to unhealthy diets and lifestyles. One group of mothers hope that they'll be able to run the MTK at one of the biggest festivals in the east of India, Durga Puja.
The team led two days of workshops in Kolkata around the Mobile Teaching Kitchen initiative. The first of which included a demo observation followed by a formal reception for stakeholders that ranged from TIGR2ESS members to organisations with an interest in nutritional work and research to politicians.
Delegates engaged in an intensive group discussion around their observations of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen demo and further discussion sought to improve our implementation and evaluation methods for effectiveness, with a focus on both qualitative and quantitative data collected, as well as financial sustainability data.
On the second day introduced a new template for the Mobile Teaching Kitchen for the participant's observation and they had the opportunity to taste the new template menu, where a new millet-based recipe was introduced, in addition to the original template used as a role model for other templates with regards to nutritional content.
The United Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) and the Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) were also presented and discussed how to best utilise the decades to intensify the nutritional work and to engage and extract commitments from government representatives.
Highlights from Sanghol, Punjab
Sanghol in Punjab was our second stop and we are proud to be able to co-operate with the team at the Lord Rana Edu City to take activities forward there as they are looking into methods of adapting the Mobile Teaching Kitchen model for a rural and agricultural setting.
Lord Rana, Urmil Verma and the Cordia Campus hosted a workshop on their facilities at Cordia College, part of The Lord Rana Edu City, founded and funded by the Lord Rana Foundation Charitable Trust, UK.
focus groups, workshops & field visits
We attended a focus group with TIGR2ESS researchers from Panjab University and the University of Cambridge in a village called Fatehgarh Sahib, close to Sanghol to find out their thoughts on nutrition and diet and how they think malnutrition affects them individually and as a community, as well as their ideas for solutions to malnutrition.
With the Sanghol team, we held a workshop where the Mobile Teaching Kitchen was presented and the attendees had the chance to observe the model’s “See one, Do one, Teach one” in practice in one of the kitchen facilities at the Cordia campus.
The feedback from the attendees was very positive with comments such as “Good efforts, taste is very good” and “Amazing initiative. Keep it up!” and an overall average score of 4.8 out of 5 in food appearance, taste, nutritional value, novelty and hygiene.
We went on a field trip to Mehar Baba Charitable Trust centre for empowering women through skills upgradation. Here we were invited to observe the centre in use and to discuss how we can implement nutritional knowledge training at the centre and further cooperate with the mobile teaching kitchen initiative.
In the news
Thank you to the regional and national media who covered our efforts and we look forward to collaborating with other organisations in the near future to take this initiative forward.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM Delhi
In India’s capital Delhi, NNEdPro held meetings with government bodies of NITI Aayog and media stakeholders, with a focus on how the Mobile Teaching Kitchen can help tackle malnutrition issues and sharing learnings from the initiative thus far.
NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the Government of India and was established with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and enhancing cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Government of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. They were very interested in the initiative and how it could be adapted on a larger scale in India. We hope that following the sharing of insights and discussions, for further interesting developments from this meeting.
During a full day meeting with Transforming India’s (ever)Green Revolution-2 by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies (TIGR2ESS) Flagship Project 6 (FP-6) group, the Mobile Teaching Kitchen was a key topics.
FP-6 wishes to impact wellbeing in rural and urban communities through key determinants of population health and resilience which include heredity, environment, diet, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors. It wishes to focus on education and empowerment as important components that can define theories of change to improve lives and livelihoods.
It is hoped this will lead to better nutrition, health and economic outcomes. FP-6 explores the relationship between these factors through assessing needs and piloting innovative intervention models (2). After an extended presentation and discussion sessions among the FP-6 members, the FP-6 theory of changes was laid down on paper and presented later at the Kolkata workshop.
In Delhi, we were also invited to meet with the Deputy Director (and other colleagues) from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to explore action research possibilities to incorporate millet-based and high nutrient value templates into patient meals.
We left India full of hope, promising conversations that we will be taking forward, and look forward to witnessing the growth of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen initiative. Our belief is the programme has the potential to be adapted now not only across other parts of India but also across the globe focusing on marginalised communities in both developing and developed countries using a model of high nutritional value culinary education and enterprise for the empowerment of communities across the socioeconomic spectrum!
For further information about Mobile Teaching Kitchens., please contact us at email@example.com .
Written by Jørgen Torgerstuen Johnsen, edited by Sanchita Banerjee, Michel Mc Girr, Sumantra (Shumone) Ray & Ananya Ria Roy