Since the launch of our Combatting Malnutrition project in 2019, the number of children attending local daycare facilities in Armenia’s Aragatsotn Region has increased from 21 to around 75.
After being piloted in the Berd Region of Tavush Province, the project was replicated in the daycares of the Norashen, Tsaghkahovit, Hnaberd, Byurakan, and Kosh communities through the generous sponsorship of the John Mirak Foundation. Overall, 400 children now receive nutritious meals three times a day in these daycare centers through our project.
Lusine Mkrtchyan, director of Tsaghkahovit’s daycare, attributes the increase in enrollment to the revamped meal plan.“Apart from the menu, FAR has also held relevant training for our kindergarten staff and we now know that a balanced and adequate menu, and good nutrition in general, are essential for the healthy growth and development of preschool-aged children, including their cognition,” she said. “We used to serve a chicken dish and a beef dish once a week. Now we include meat on the menu three days a week, and chicken the other two days. And it’s not only a matter of food; it’s also the eating habits they learn here and which they take home with them.”
Whole grains such as oat and buckwheat have also become an essential part of the new menu. According to the Lusine, the children are now more active, energetic, and enthusiastic.
Many local parents agree.
“I can certainly say that my kids are very active, which is something that I didn’t see before,” said Meline, 27, mother of Shushanna, 5, Mari, 4, and Ivan, 2. Her children have also started to ask to eat the dishes they eat at daycare at home as well. “One of their favorite dishes is spas and buckwheat kasha. Now, I often cook those at home. Vegetables like pumpkin, red beets, and baked cabbage may seem unusual at first but I have found that my family enjoys them in the dishes I prepare. They are both easy to make and healthy options.”