Simple Recipe Changes Help Once-underweight Children to Thrive


Simple Recipe Changes Help Once-underweight Children to Thrive

Telma, a 29-year-old mother of five in Guatemala, tends the fire of her brick stove. She puts a pot on the stove, adding chopped potatoes and grated carrots. After they soften, she drains the water, coarsely mashes the cooked vegetables with a fork, cracks a few eggs on top, then mixes everything together.

Her children wait eagerly for their lunch to be ready. They watch as Telma shapes patties with her hands and drops them into the frying pan, where they sizzle and fry to a golden brown. This recipe is one that Telma learned when she took part in a World Vision programme called Common Pot, which offers caregivers training on how to prepare nutritious family meals.

Telma learned about the programme from World Vision staff back in 2020. At that time, Yesica was not growing as she should. “I felt bad,” Telma recalls. “I thought something was wrong that she wasn’t keeping well,” says Telma. “I was not able to buy her nutritious food because I didn’t have enough money.”

In Telma’s community, World Vision staff regularly check in on children and their families. When they noticed at one of these check-ins that Yesica was underweight, they encouraged Telma to join the Common Pot nutritional training programme.

Cooking more nutritiously

Through Common Pot, World Vision helps communities address child malnutrition by connecting mums with each other and creating a place where they can learn from and support each other, among other things. First of all, staff identify children in the community who fall within the healthy weight range. Then they work with the children’s mothers to understand what’s working well — including what they’re feeding their children and how they prepare it. These women then become “guide mothers,” working alongside World Vision nutrition experts to train other parents on how to create nutritious meals for their children from locally available ingredients.

Until the training, Telma says, she used to serve her children rice, pasta, eggs, or potatoes, but only one item per meal. Now she’s learned that she can combine ingredients to increase the food’s nutritional value. She adjusts traditional Guatemalan recipes by adding vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, or greens to samosas or tortillas to ensure that her children are getting the nutrients they need. All of these vegetables are readily available in her community.

Thriving children

When Yesica was underweight, Telma says, “Her face was yellow and thin.”

But since Telma has been serving up delicious new dishes, Yesica has begun to thrive. At her checkup in February 2023, she was weighed again and measured within the normal weight range for her age and height.

“I am happy because my baby has the right weight,” says Telma. “I have seen her playing more. Now she eats better. She eats more.”

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