In Indonesia, preschool continues to be a common option for parents. Nevertheless, the private preschool institution usually costs much money and not all people in society can afford it. Leading the movement to facilitate and improve the quality of early childhood education is the Foundation for Mother and Child Health (FMCH) Indonesia, also known as Yayasan Balita Sehat (YBS).
FMCH Indonesia provides early learning for children of families from a low-income background, charging only 40.000-50.000 IDR (£2 – £2.60) per month tuition fee. The fee covers a child’s schooling and parental activities provided by our organization. In FMCH Indonesia, an early childhood education unit in South Jakarta and West Java, locally known as PAUD, offers preschool education to young children age 5 to 7 years old of lower/middle income families in society. With only a limited amount of money, the parents do not need to worry about the quality of their child’s education. The academic curriculum in FMCH Indonesia integrates education (based on government guidance) and health (developed by FMCH). In line with the integration, lunching together in the early learning centre and attending cooking classes, accelerates healthy food consumption among children.
“Children in our early learning centre have a cooking class twice a year, while their parents have a cooking class every month. The menu then becomes a school lunch menu for children every day. We have been doing this since 2001,” reports Aris Gunawan, The Health and Promotion Coordinator. Children learn how to cook healthy yet easy and affordable food with other friends and their teacher. Indeed, the menu is approved by a nutritionist first to check the nutritional value of the food. Located at FMCH Indonesia office on Cipete and Bojonggede, the class is free of charge for children who join there.
A review published in 2018 evaluated positively the integration of a culinary intervention with an academic curriculum and school lunch programme. According to McFarland (2019), promoting the lifetime skill of healthy cooking can be done by cooking with children starting at a young age. The aim of the culinary intervention is not only to reduce the consumption of ready-cooked-meals and to upgrade the health of families but also to reduce the risks linked to childhood obesity. FMCH want our children to not only have a healthy cooking knowledge, but also practice it. One article writing about the importance of cooking class with peers, concluded that nutrition knowledge is not complete without direct practice. FMCH children are taught about healthy food in the class and then practice it in the cooking class. They cook with bare hands in food preparation, using food and kitchen utensils. Introducing healthy cooking in schools through cooking class has many advantages including preparing them in basic skills for cooking.
Muzzafar and his colleagues (2018) evaluated a culinary intervention for children age 5 to 12 years old. There was a positive result between culinary intervention and an increase in cooking skills, consumption of a healthy diet and, a positive change in anthropometric measurement. During cooking activities, children can embrace all their senses and will experience how to knead, toss, pour, smell, and cut in the kitchen. They play, have fun, and learn at the same time without being aware of it. Collaborating with the child during cooking can be an alternative to looking at gadgets for a long time. Many studies show that children tend to eat more fruit and vegetable after joining the cooking class.
To sum up, cooking in schools can build positive memories that promote future healthy and enjoyable cooking elsewhere. Besides, working together as a team and communicating in the kitchen is an indirect activity to teach children to socialize.
Please be aware that parents and teachers should be with children and make sure that kitchen utensils are suitable for their age. Happy World Food Day 2019. We hope that parents and children in our early learning centre and others can start to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible for them!
Muzaffar, H., Metcalfe, J. J., & Fiese, B. (2018). Narrative review of culinary interventions with children in schools to promote healthy eating: directions for future research and practice. Current developments in nutrition, 2(6), nzy016.
McFarland, M. A. (2019, June 13). Cooking with Kids in Schools: Why It Is Important. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://healthy-food-choices-in-schools.extension.org/cooking-with-kids-in-schools-why-it-is-important/.