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Food carts prove an effective way to help children

Indonesian food carts deliver healthy foodSince many poorer homes in the slums of Jakarta lack cooking utensils or kitchens, most residents purchase food from a street vendor rather than cooking it themselves.

Unfortunately, street food, loaded with fat and sugar and often tainted by additives, can lead to high rates of malnutrition and its subsequent long-term impacts on children, including stunting, anemia, reduced productivity, and other related illnesses.

In Jakarta, 17% of children under five are classified as suffering from acute malnutrition, while 12% are overweight, signaling a “double burden” of malnutrition.

Changing children’s diets in the slums of Jakarta required not only making healthy food available but also making it appealing to the children.

Four prototype food carts were created in 2009 by Mercy Corps and local entrepreneurs were recruited to run them. A nutritionist created a menu of inexpensive but nutritious food suitable for morning meals and snacks. Priced to be competitive with other street food options, these carts still allow vendors to earn a 30% profit margins on their products.

Expansion in 2010 of this successful program was funded by The Hunger Site and GreaterGood.org.

Today, the food carts now serve a variety of nutritious meals to approximately 4,030 children in urban Jakarta.

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