International School Meals Day: Children Count on Soy

March 11, 2017

In 2000, U.S. soybean farmers from state soybean grower organizations created the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) as a program of the American Soybean Association (ASA). The WISHH program carries a focus on trade and long-term market development for U.S. soybean farmers, while fueling economic growth and value chain development.

Since its creation, WISHH has enhanced the protein intake of many nations through market development, education and research. WISHH recognizes today’s developing nations are tomorrow’s customers for U.S. soy and soy protein.

In honor of International School Meals Day on March 9, WISHH shares how children (and the people who feed them) count on soy to add nutrition to school meals. Choices range from a delicious Kenyan soya stew recipe to an affordable prepackaged mix that has performed so well in Guatemala that El Salvador’s government started purchasing it for schools.

Kenyan Recipes for Success

More than 1.5 million Kenyan school children receive a hot lunch of corn and legumes each day, according to World Bank. Such institutional feeding programs fit into WISHH’s overall work with its Kenyan supply chain partner, IMCD Kenya, to introduce nutritious soy-based foods to Kenyan consumers. WISHH’s 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program-funded seminars featured nutrition and cooking-with-soy education as well as offered healthy recipes. Download a copy of these recipes ranging from soy stew to sweet potatoes mashed with soy flour to get a glimpse of why four schools and 12 supermarkets expanded their soy use as a result of the USDA-supported education.

Cooking up Soy in Côte d’Ivoire

Karidia Soukoulé Koné, director of the Ivory Coast school nutrition program, signed an agreement with WISHH to fund training for local cooks on how to prepare school meals with soy. Thanks to support from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), WISHH will train more than 1,000 school cooks and food service managers. The Directorate of School Canteens (DSC) the Ivorian Government’s school nutrition program, bought approximately 75 metric tons (five 40-foot containers) of textured soy protein for the schools after seeing the results of the product through their previous cooperation with WISHH.

USDA Cochran Alumnae Star in WISHH’s School Feeding and Nutrition Training

The vote was unanimous–100 percent of participants in WISHH’s 2016 USDA Cochran Fellowship Program reported they “Agree Strongly—The Cochran Fellowship Program increased my knowledge of school feeding and nutrition.”

Two participants who are implementing a USDA McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program stated in a thank you letter that the training stands out as one of the best they have ever attended. “We were able to walk away and feel more equipped with a new understanding and strategies in dealing with feeding and nutrition issues.”

The responses reflect the Fellowship offering insight from more than 20 presenters, ranging from nutrition educators to farm-to-school and private-sector agriculture and food industry leaders. Importantly, two superstar WISHH Cochran alumnae returned to serve as trainers of the class of 2016 and share ways to improve child nutrition in Central America and Africa.

2012 Alumna Paola Escobar, a food engineer with Alimentos S.A., traveled to the 2016 program thanks to WISHH leveraging its soybean checkoff support from the Michigan Qualified State Soybean Board. 2014 Alumna Wilna Oldewage-Theron also joined to pass on her expertise during the WISHH 2016 training held in Washington, D.C., Delaware and Virginia.

To learn more about International School Meals Day, click here.