This packet of “mixed rice” as how we, Malaysians would call it may seem like an ordinary meal. And most of us would not give much thought to how it affects the way we function on a daily basis or even the impact it has on us.
As part of my work, I frequent public schools across the Klang Valley where we run character building and mentorship programs.
I’m at a school canteen and I can hear the buzzing excitement of students lining up to buy their meals, chatting and laughing loudly, even frowning at the long queue while others dig hungrily into home-packed food or “bekal” as they call it. At the corner of my eye, I see a handful of boys, eyeing the food stalls from a distance. But sadly, that’s all they do. Watch from a distance.
There are many students just like them that come to school hungry every day because they don’t have money for breakfast. That is alarming because nutrition has direct impact on how a person functions – simple things like concentrating in class or committing information to memory can be severely compromised when a person is hungry. In other words, nutrition (or the lack thereof) can affect how well (or badly) a student performs in school.
According to a report by Khazanah Research Institute in 2014, families earning below RM2,000 spend very little on meat, as low as RM1.83 a day. Studies across the world have shown that low-income families spend less on nutritious food which leads to lower mental performance, poorer cognitive ability and achievement in schools. What concerns me is the fact that in our own country, there is such a thing as having “no pocket money for food”.
Many have the assumption it only happens in rural areas, but it is happening right here in urban areas too. Yet, the solution is actually quite simple. We are in a position to help these students concentrate better at school by feeding them a full meal. And what better way to help them begin the day than with breakfast.
This led to the birth of Super Sarapan, a program we began in 2014 to feed students from low-income families breakfast in the morning before class. We partner with canteen operators to provide breakfast every day for these students for the entire school year.
We began with only 40 students in 1 school in 2014. In 2015, we fed 201 students in 6 schools. In 2016, we are feeding 222 students in 7 schools with 34 students in one more school still on the waiting list for this year alone.
We have many more students and schools to reach out to, but in order to scale up we need your support.
There is a growing need for initiatives like Super Sarapan. As the cost of living continues to rise, more families are falling into the low-income demographic.
The feedback we’ve gotten from teachers in schools is that many food programs only exist periodically for special festivals, events or over a limited time frame with the help of parent-teacher associations who self-fund for students.
Super Sarapan provides breakfast for students every day for the entire school year. This helps to reduce the burden from schools and low-income families that are already struggling to make ends meet. It gives parents in these families some relief to know that their children can come to school and concentrate better in class with a full meal in their stomachs every morning. If children can concentrate better in class, it helps their learning and improves their chances of getting better grades and securing a better future, for themselves and for their families.
It only costs RM 3 a day to feed a student. We are passionate about our next generation and our goal is to make sure that students from low-income families across Malaysia don’t come to school hungry anymore.
Beginning from RM 50 a month, you can provide a student breakfast everyday for an entire school year. Imagine how many lives we could impact if we all gave a little.
Will you help us end hunger for these students?