Nutrition and Health

The problem: Undernourished schoolchildren

In Nepal, many rurals school start at 7 AM and go until 10 AM. Students then return home to eat their morning meal of rice and lentils. Unfortunately, many students live as far as 1- 1.5 hour away by foot. They often cannot return home to eat. Because many schools do not have cafeterias, schoolchildren instead eat nutritionally poor foods like chips, packaged noodles and biscuits. These procesed food keep their hunger at bay until dinnertime. 

Poorly Resourced Schools

Many rural schools have very basic facilities: often just a few classrooms and usually no cafeteria.  Space at a school is limited to classroom instruction, especially in more rural areas.  Smartketi came up with an innovative way to feed its hungry schoolchildren. It built a smartbakery: a place on school grounds that would feed a large number of schoolchildren a healthy, and hygienic food.  

The idea of the smartbakery

Instead of building a full cafeteria, smartketi wanted to introduce an alternative way to feed schoolchildren. It wanted something that could easily be built and quickly scaled up to neighboring villages. Its features:

  • located on school-grounds
  • run by local women (smartketis) 
  • built using local materials
  • require minimal space
  • uses mud-brick oven
  • quickly scales up to other villages

Featured Food item: smartbowl

Instead of serving a full course meal of rice, lentils and vegetables, the smartbakery wanted to introduce a newer, quicker and innovative food item. It came up with the smartbowl, which is a vitamin and iron fortified bread bowl, filled with traditional Nepali vegetable curry. Its features:

  • biodegradable (no spoons, plates, or clean-up required)
  • eaten anywhere (on a lap, at a desk)
  • nutrient rich and vitamin fortified
  • consistent with local palate
  • quick and inexpensive

Smartbakery

The smartbakery opened August 2018. Although bread items are fairly new to Nepali cuisine, local schoolchildren quickly began to eat at the smartbakery daily. The taste was similar to other Nepali foods, yet it was a new type of food. The smartbakery also began to serve fruit and vegetable muffins. It plans to have a daily nutritional and health message posted everyday.  

Changes Since the smartbakery started

Although the smartbakery is quite new, several changes have already taken place within the local school and the community.

  •  teachers and staff began to prefer the taste of freshly baked items over pre-packaged foods
  • community learned new ways to incorporate healthy foods into their morning snacks and meals
  • a neighboring school began to order a daily set of fortified muffins for their 1st and 2nd graders
  • the smartketis began to learn how to bake and how to manage a business
  • the smartketis opened bank accounts and started to manage their own money
  • neighboring villages became interested in this concept and asked to learn from Manthali's innovative project

Smartketis in Action

Learning How to Plan

Smartketis visiting the local market to purchase material needed to run the smartbakery. They learned about buying material in bulk and planning menus in advance as well as negotiating.

Learning How to Keep the Books

In addition to opening their own bank accounts, the smartketis began to learn how to run a business. They had to keep a daily ledger or inventory and sales. This was an entirely new concept for them.

Learning How to Run a Business

Smartketis learning how to run a business like how to keep its customers happy.

Keeping It Local

Fortified Wheat from Local Flour Mill

The smartbakery spoke with the local flour mill and talked about adding a fortification device to its existing flour mill. In this way, all flour, available in Manthali, will be more nutritious and in accordance with government fortification standards. It will also provide an opportunity for neighboring communities to buy Manthali flour and help boost its economy.

Fortification

Local Nepal Rice Paper for Packaging

The smartbakery spoke with the local rice paper factory in Manthali about using its paper for packaging of its baked items. This paper, made from recycled paper, is made locally. The smartbakery established a recycle bin and plans to recycle this paper back to the factory.


Paper Factory

Local materials for construction of the mud-brick oven

Smartbakery ultimately plans to scale up into the schools of more remote villages, many of which do not have a reliable source of electricity. Learning from traditional ovens hundreds of years old, it hopes to perfect this natural way of baking.

Mud-Brick Ovens

Support for the smartbakery

Tufts Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship Competition

On April 12, 2018, the Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, MA held an entrepreneurship competition where teams had to come up with innovative solutions to nutrition problems. The smartbakery entered this competition and won first prize. This generous grant allowed for the start-up funds for the smartbakery. Photo courtesy Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy.

The support from this competition allowed the development of the smartbakery and all upfront operating cost.

Industry and academic professionals helped boost our idea with advice and support.

link to Tufts Now Article