John Keells Foundation initiates Nutrition Awareness in Schools in Praja Shakthi Locations

John Keells Foundation (JKF), in collaboration with the Scaling Up Nutrition People’s Forum (SUN PF), successfully initiated a series of nutritional awareness sessions, as part of the ongoing School Nutrition Programme, targeting ten selected schools in the John Keells Praja Shakthi locations of Colombo 02 and Ja-Ela. The programme is aimed at fostering nutrition awareness and promoting sustainable practices such as school gardening to complement the school meal programme implemented previously.

Awareness sessions were conducted from 5th to 7th March 2024 in two schools in Colombo 2 and during the period of 16th to 27th February 2024 in five schools in Ja-Ela, following a well-received session held in December 2023, in two schools in Colombo 2 benefiting a diverse audience of 1,211 students, teachers and parents.

The School Meal Programme, implemented by JKF in partnership with businesses of the John Keells Group as part of the Group’s Crisis Response Initiatives, saw the need for sustainable practices which led to the pilot of a school gardening project in A.E. Gunasinghe School in Colombo 12 in collaboration with the Divisional Secretariat of Colombo that is continuing successfully to date. In July 2023, JKF entered into a strategic collaboration with SUN PF to launch the School Nutrition Programme. This was preceded and followed by extensive engagement with key educational officials at the Provincial and Zonal levels, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health to facilitate a multi-stakeholder collaboration. An orientation programme for key stakeholders was conducted in October 2023 which included officials from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, school principals, Health Promotion Bureau, World Vision Lanka and World Food Programme.

“We learned a lot about having a balanced diet today. We were taught important things like reducing salt, eating more green vegetables, and avoiding instant foods and sodas. I found this session very helpful, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with my mother when I get home!” – Grade 9 student from T.B Jayah Zahira College, Colombo 2.

Plans are in progress for the establishment of school gardens subject to space availability in schools. Support for setting up and initiating planting in these gardens will be provided by JKF and SUN PF with active participation of the school authorities, students, and parents in the form of implementation and maintenance. The produce from the school gardens is expected to be utilised for school meals.

The nutritional awareness programme is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasising health and well-being, inclusive and equitable quality education, and fostering partnerships, outlined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

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