By Sento Kai Kargbo
Reviewed by Maria Veronica Flores Bello, Sucheta Mitra, Wanja Nyaga and Luke Buckner
Sincere thank you to NNEdPro Global Centre Faculty led by Prof Sumantra Ray, including Dr Luke Buckner, Helena Trigueiro, and Daniela Martini, and to Tecnologico De Monterrey Faculty led by María Verónica Flores Bell with coordination input from the NNEdPro Mexico Regional Network led by Mercedes Zorrilla Tejeda.
NNEdPro Global Centre, alongside local charities, launched the Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) initiative in 2017 aiming to create a sustainable approach to tackling cycles of food insecurity, intergenerational poverty, and malnutrition among underserved and vulnerable populations. The MTK looked to ameliorate malnutrition by improving diet diversity and awareness through cooking demonstrations of sustainable, nutritious, and affordable meals using locally sourced ingredients. Since 2017, the MTK has been successfully implemented in 2 marginalised communities in Kolkata (RG Kar and Chetla) as well as a rural setting in Sanghol (Punjab), India (see Buckner et al, 2021. Bhavishya Shakti: Empowering the Future. Establishing and evaluating a pilot community mobile teaching kitchen as an innovative model, training marginalised women to become culinary health educators in Kolkata, India).
The MTK - Mexico Adaptation
Following the success in India, the team was excited to transfer this knowledge to other regions. Through NNEdPro’s regional networks we collaborated with the University of Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. In the latter part of 2021, third-year students from the BSc, alongside nutritionists and other health professionals launched an adaptation of the MTK model. This initiative aimed to tackle the same issues as the original project in India, albeit with different nutritional interventions adapted to the local diet. The populations focused on were in underserved communities of Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.
Primary aim: To improve health outcomes in underserved communities through effective food and nutrition education, thereby increasing community resilience to food insecurity and malnutrition.
Secondary aim: To foster innovation capacity in students so that they can become agents of change within their communities.
Phase I of the Initiative – Planning and Designing a Model for Mexico
During the initial phase of the MTK-Mexico adaptation, Prof Sumantra Ray, NNEdPro Executive Director, and Dr Luke Buckner, Assistant Director and MTK Project Lead at NNEdPro, shared insights and lessons learned from the MTK experience in India with the students in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. Prof Ray, Dr Buckner, and other MTK project team members also provided live feedback to students who presented their ideas for implementing the MTK in Mexico leading to a highly engaging and creative discussion on designing and implementing a successful community-based health intervention.
Following the workshops, the students curated a set of recipes as part of a template menu using affordable, locally sourced ingredients. The NNEdPro team was impressed by the effort, novelty, and applicability of their menus which truly embraced the MTK concepts.
This stage was followed by baseline data collection to understand the needs of the communities. With the help of their educators, the students administered surveys collecting demographics and socioeconomic status data, as well as ascertaining nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP).
Phase II of the Initiative – Implementation and Evaluation
In Phase II, the students adopted the “See One, Do One, Teach One” (SODOTO) method to deliver nutrition education in a more traditional, storytelling manner via cooking demonstrations following the pre-set template menu. The template menu comprises nutritionally balanced meals prepared using locally sourced ingredients. The SODOTO workshops are comprehensive nutrition education, cooking, and hygiene workshops designed to stimulate health behaviour change among participants. At the end of the workshops, KAP surveys were administered to assess improvement, if any, in nutrition knowledge and attitudes.
The project evaluations are underway, with more updates to come. For more details on the MTK project in Mexico, including key updates and upcoming papers, watch this space.
SODOTO Workshops - MTK-Mexico Adaption, Mexico City and Tonalá, Jalisco.
Mexico Regional Network webpage https://www.nnedpro.org.uk/mexico
The Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) webpage https://www.nnedpro.org.uk/mtk
Buckner et al., 2021. Bhavishya Shakti: Empowering the Future. Establishing and evaluating a pilot community mobile teaching kitchen as an innovative model, training marginalised women to become culinary health educators in Kolkata, India.