A total of 63 pairs of mothers and their children from 11 People’s Housing Project (PPR) and Public Housing (PA) communities are now more aware about the importance of nutrition, having participated in the PUTRA Community Nutrition Ambassador Programme (PUTRACNAP) by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), supported by Nestlé Malaysia.
Kicked off in April 2022 with the aim of improving dietary and lifestyle habits among Malaysians, PUTRACNAP is a three-phase research-oriented community nutrition programme based on the “farm to table” concept, led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chin Yit Siew, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UPM.
In the first phase of the programme, 63 pairs of mothers and children from selected PPR and PA communities in the Klang Valley were enrolled in the programme through a Health Screening and Nutrition Awareness Campaign. Aimed at raising awareness and understanding of food security and nutrition among these communities, the campaign ran from June to October 2022, providing free health screenings including body composition assessments, blood pressure checks, blood tests, fitness tests, and nutrition counselling, amongst others.
Of the 63 mothers, 32 were trained as Community Nutrition Ambassadors in Phase 2, which entailed the Train-the-Trainers component to equip them with the right tools and knowledge to empower their extended communities towards more sustainable, healthier lifestyles. Through interactive nutrition workshops, the programme covered key topics such as Sustainable Diets, Practising Healthy Eating and Practising Healthy Lifestyles for both mothers and children, as well as Women Empowerment as the Key to Healthy Families, Management of Children’s Weight and Growth, and Affordable, Healthy and Safe Food Sources tailored specifically for the mothers.
The Community Nutrition Ambassadors and their children also participated in a clean-up session of their neighbourhood and recycling workshop, as well as urban farming workshops, where they were trained in urban farming techniques to enable them to grow their own food.
The programme culminated in a ‘Farm to Table’ Community Nutrition Health Carnival as part of the third phase, which saw exciting activities such as a health screening session and a cooking demonstration by Community Nutrition Ambassadors. Alongside representatives of UPM, the Community Nutrition Ambassadors also hosted interactive and informative nutrition exhibition booths to spread awareness regarding urban farming, nutrition, physical activity and sustainable diets.
Livening up the festivities, the carnival also included a cooking competition sponsored by MAGGI themed “Sajian Seimbang Tanda Sayang” (a balanced bowl is a serving of love), which saw the Community Nutrition Ambassadors competing against each other to showcase their best efforts in practising what they have learnt. MAGGI and Nestlé EVERYDAY trucks were also present to provide free product samplings for attendees.
Dato’ Adnan Pawanteh, Executive Director, Group Corporate Affairs of Nestlé Malaysia, said, “As a leader in Nutrition, Health and Wellness, Nestlé Malaysia is proud to have worked hand-in-hand with an institution such as UPM to encourage healthy lifestyles amongst Malaysians, particularly PPR communities who may be more vulnerable to malnutrition issues. We are pleased with the outcome of the programme, and we look forward to seeing the Community Nutrition Ambassadors continue to empower their respective communities by utilising the knowledge and awareness they have gained through PUTRACNAP.”
YBhg. Prof. Dr. Zamberi Sekawi, Dean of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UPM, commented, “Having in place a Community Nutrition Ambassador Programme that is focused on sustainable nutrition based on the ‘Farm to Table’ concept, we are able to cultivate a happier and healthier community. As such, we highly encourage organising programmes such as this throughout Malaysia.”
Ida Wati bt Mat Daud, a Community Nutrition Ambassador from PPR Kg. Baru Air Panas, said, “Joining PUTRACNAP to become a Community Nutrition Ambassador has been a good experience, and I have learnt a lot about health and nutrition, alongside urban farming. I have started to practice healthier eating with my family, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned with my friends and neighbours as well so we can lead healthier lives together.”
Ending the programme on a high note, the official conclusion of PUTRACNAP at the closing ceremony saw Community Nutrition Ambassadors being recognised for their achievement in successfully completing the three phases of the programme with exciting prizes.
Moving forward, the Community Nutrition Ambassadors will continue to undergo follow-up evaluations to monitor their health and nutritional status, alongside executing knowledge sharing sessions in their respective communities later this year. Results of the research is expected to be ready by the end of 2023.