Thanks to a January visit from a University of Kentucky group, children at the Kentucky Academy in Ghana will be eating lunch every day this school year.  Dr. Janet Mullins, Doug Mullins, Dr. Mark Williams, Linda Heflin, and Yolanda Jackson, returned from a recent trip to Ghana where they helped launch the kindergarten feeding program. While their trip only lasted two weeks, they were able to begin work on a school garden, start a school feeding program, and provide support to a women's batik school.

Meal time at the Kentucky Acadamy in Ghana

To ensure the sustainability of the feeding program, the group met with the Adjeikrom Chief and toured a 4 hectare plot for the school garden. Dr. Mark Williams, UK Department of Horticulture, and Mildred Osei- Kwarteng, University of Development Studies in Tamale, consulted with the group about the garden. The Village cleared land and plots will be designed for staples and vegetables. Items in the garden will be incorporated into the children's diets along with other locally grown foods.

Vivian Tackie-Ofosu, faculty member at University of Ghana, trained teachers and parents about appropriate feeding practices for young children.  She solicited parent volunteers to sit at tables with children during lunch. The first day was chaotic, but by the third day students had learned to form lines, use spoons and cups, and take empty dishes to a basin creating a calm routine.

Yolanda Jackson, graduate student in the Nutrition and Food Science Department, is conducting research about how the feeding program at the Kentucky Academy is expected to impact the students, teachers, parents and the village of Adjeikrom. She conducted interviews with 25 adults in the village and recorded meal service for the first three days of kindergarten. This data will be transcribed and reviewed to prepare for Yolanda's returns to gather additional data for her thesis.

Linda Heflin, Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association international chairman, attended to further KEHA's commitment to the Kentucky Academy in Ghana. Since 2008, the organization has included the Kentucky Academy as the primary focus in the International program of work. Thanks to KEHA, the children have a dining pavilion with tables and benches for eating lunch. Future plans include KEHA assisting with development of a volunteer program and an age-appropriate, interactive curriculum for the kindergarten.

Before returning to Kentucky, the group visited Abonse to continue support for the batik training program and purchased 42 yards of batik. A portion of this fabric is being used for the KEHA "fat quarters" project led by Brenda Cockerham, Family Consumer Science Agent in Johnson County.

Mullins will discuss the feeding program as part of a presentation about hunger work at a luncheon seminar on March 4th, in 128 Erikson Hall.