| Jun 16, 2016
Every day, Chort sees happy, smiling faces from her food cart. But these aren’t just any food cart customers - these are the faces of hungry children looking for a nourishing meal to start their day. These are children whose parents struggle to provide a nutrient-rich breakfast- children who might otherwise go hungry.
Chort is a 59-year-old housewife and mother living in Oddar Meanchey, a rural province in northwestern Cambodia. She is one of the first operators of Medical Teams International’s food cart program - an initiative launched in 2015 to battle childhood malnutrition in rural Cambodia.
Many parents in the rural provinces of Cambodia must work hard to care for their families. Often, husbands and fathers have to travel-within Cambodia or abroad-to find work. In addition to caring for the family, some mothers must also work full days in order to survive. Busy mothers want to feed their children nutritious meals - but time and resources are scarce.
Thanks to you, there is now a fast, healthy option for these families. The need is great- many of Cambodia’s rural communities suffer high rates of malnutrition. Roughly 32 percent of children in Cambodia have stunted growth; more than half are anemic. Nutritional deficiencies put children at an increased risk of serious illness and disease. Medical Teams International’s Food Cart Program operates in more than a dozen communities within Cambodia.
Busy mothers want to feed their children nutritious meals - but time and resources are scarce.
The last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, Oddar Meanchey lags behind other provinces in development. Without other options, hard-working mothers often turn to convenience foods to feed their children. Unfortunately, convenient often means unhealthy - many children in Chort’s village weren’t getting enough vitamin and nutrient-rich foods essential for healthy growth.
Chort heard about the food cart project through a community awareness campaign in her village- she seemed like a good fit. Once identified as a potential food vendor, she and her husband attended a five-day training session conducted by Medical Teams International.
She learned how to cook nutritious snacks and meals; most importantly, Borbor, a rice porridge of fish or pork with herbs and other fresh ingredients - a perfect food for young children. Building her skills as an entrepreneur, she also received training on hygiene and business management of the food cart. Afterwards, Chort signed an agreement with Medical Teams International and received her fully-stocked food cart. She was open for business.
Now, in addition to selling her delicious and nourishing Borbor, Chort provides mothers with information on childhood nutrition. A taped, pro-nutrition message sounds from the speakers on her food cart. After months of selling Borbor and other homemade snacks, her daily sales have increased and she’s excited to see it keep growing.
“I will continue selling nutritious, healthy food with my food cart, and advise mothers and caretakers of children on the benefits (of) ...good hygiene,” she said.
This is more than just a business venture for the busy wife and mother. It’s a way of helping the children in her community have access to fresh, healthy food - her food cart is keeping her community strong.
Thanks to you, Chort knows how to provide nutritious porridge and homemade snacks to hungry children in rural Cambodia. Along with satisfying growing bodies, your support grows healthy communities.