Making healthy choices accessible

Aiman Athirah (second from left) receiving a basket of food grown at PA Seri Perlis 2’s urban farm. Looking on are UPM Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences deputy dean Prof Dr Cheah Yoke Kqueen (left) and Adnan (right).

AFTER undergoing a series of workshops on health, nutrition and urban farming, housewife Ida Wati Mat Daud is now more aware of what she feeds her family and the importance of healthy lifestyle.

“I will study packaging labels for nutrition contents and other details when shopping for groceries,” said the 47-year-old mother of four.

Ida Wati has also learned how to grow her own food such as vegetables and herbs.

“It is more sustainable to grow my own food and cheaper than buying outside, which allows me to save on household expenses.

“This also ensures that the food that I cook for my family is healthy and safe, while including a variety of vegetables in their diet for a good balance of nutrition intake,” she said.

Ida Wati tries to adhere to the “quarter of carbohydrates, quarter of protein, and half vegetables” rule for a balanced meal, drinking plain water instead of sugary beverages and taking daily walks around her neighbourhood.

The Kampung Baru Air Panas PPR resident is one of 32 ambassadors from the Putra Community Nutrition Ambassador Programme (PutraCNap) by Nestle Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Ida Wati hoped that she and her two young children, who also registered for the programme, would play a positive role within their family as well as share their know-how with neighbours and friends.

PutraCNap is a three-phase research-oriented community nutrition programme based on the farm-to-table concept, led by UPM Department of Nutrition Assoc Prof Dr Chin Yit Siew.

The first phase saw 63 pairs of mothers and children from 11 people’s housing projects (PPR) and public housing (PA) in the Klang Valley participating in a health screening and nutrition awareness campaign.

Under phase two, 32 pairs of mothers and children from five PPR and PA were trained as PutraCNap ambassadors to equip them with the right tools and knowledge to empower their extended communities towards more sustainable and healthier lifestyles.

They also participated in a neighbourhood clean-up, recycling workshop and urban farming workshops where they learnt urban farming techniques to grow their own food.

The programme culminated with a farm-to-table community carnival for the third phase, which was launched by Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Aiman Athirah Sabu at PA Seri Perlis 2, Kuala Lumpur.

Nestle Malaysia Bhd Group Corporate Affairs executive director Datuk Adnan Pawanteh said the company started the programme about a year ago with the intention of bringing knowledge of nutrition and know-how to B40 communities in particular, and the general population of Malaysia.

“We would like people to make right choices in terms of nutrition and well-being of their families.

“As the urban population increases, we encourage people to be more productive and do urban farming, not just growing crops but rearing fish and so on,” said Adnan, adding that the outcome from PutraCNap’s research collaboration will be announced in future.

Dr Chin said the programme highlighted the farm-to-table concept to encourage participants to plant vegetables that they can use to cook meals for their families.

“In doing so, they will know that the vegetables are safe for consumption and encourage their families to eat healthier meals.

“There will be follow-up evaluations to monitor the participants’ health and nutritional status, to observe changes in their lifestyles and diets,” she said.

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