Children Count on Soy – 5 countries featured on International School Meals Day 


WISHH’s USDA Cochran School Feeding Fellowship alumnae and 2016 participants from Nicaragua and South Africa show their soy-protein foods that they made as part of teams with the culinary students at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia. The school’s chef invited WISHH to bring the Cochran trainees to let everyone learn together in a school setting. 

In honor of International School Meals Day on March 9th, WISHH shares how children (and the people who feed them) count on soy to add nutrition to school meals. Choices range from a delicious Kenyan soya stew recipe to an affordable prepackaged mix that has performed so well in Guatemala that El Salvador’s government started purchasing it for schools.
Here’s a snapshot of WISHH’s recent work with diverse companies and organizations that support nutritious and delicious school meals. 

Kenyan Recipes for Success

More than 1.5 million Kenyan school children receive a hot lunch of corn and legumes each day, according to World Bank. Such institutional feeding programs fit into WISHH’s overall work with its Kenyan supply chain partner, IMCD Kenya, to introduce nutritious soy-based foods to Kenyan consumers. WISHH’s 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program-funded seminars featured nutrition and cooking-with-soy education as well as offered healthy recipes. Download a copy of these recipes ranging from soy stew to sweet potatoes mashed with soy flour to get a glimpse of why four schools and 12 supermarkets expanded their soy use as a result of the USDA-supported education. 

El Salvadoran Schools Now Enjoy Guatemalan Soy Product

WISHH partnered with the Guatemalan-based Alimentos Company to host a 2016 Soy Nutrition See for Yourself trip in Guatemala. Qualified State Soybean Boards, like Michigan, supported the tour and meetings. Attendees included a representative of El Salvador’s Ministry of Health, which is responsible for administering social programs in the country. She witnessed how the Guatemalan factory manufactures soy-based beverages and porridge mixes that the government purchases and distributes to Guatemalan social program participants, such as schools. The tour also included presentations on the value of soy nutrition and visits to a Guatemalan community where a soy-based meal program reduced child malnutrition by 35 percent. 

Upon the participant’s return to El Salvador and convinced of the value of soy nutrition, the Ministry of Health placed an order for 1.35 million bags of the U.S. soy-based beverage for use in the country’s social programs. The product contains 30 percent U.S. soy flour and is distributed to children, ages six months to 24 months, who are at high risk for malnutrition. This purchase will supply the program for one year. Alimentos S.A. continues to expand their product lines as well as their participation in school programs. Their latest school partnership occurred in January, when Alimentos supplied 452,040 units of Incaparina in Tetra Pak packages to Guatemalan schools in a program managed by the Department of Education. 

Alimentos continues to expand their product lines as well as their participation in school programs. Their latest school partnership occurred in January when Alimentos supplied 452,040 units of Incaparina in Tetra Pak packages to Guatemalan schools in a program managed by the Department of Education. 

Cooking up Soy in Côte d’Ivoire

Karidia Soukoulé Koné, director of the Ivory Coast school nutrition program, signed an agreement with WISHH to fund training for local cooks on how to prepare school meals with soy.  Thanks to support from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), WISHH will train more than 1,000 school cooks and food service managers. The Directorate of School Canteens (DSC) the Ivorian Government’s school nutrition program, bought approximately 75 metric tons (five 40-foot containers) of textured soy protein for the schools after seeing the results of the product through their previous cooperation with WISHH. 

USDA Cochran Alumnae Star in WISHH’s School Feeding and Nutrition Training

The vote was unanimous–100 percent of participants in WISHH’s 2016 USDA Cochran Fellowship Program reported they “Agree Strongly—The Cochran Fellowship Program increased my knowledge of school feeding and nutrition.”

Two participants who are implementing a USDA McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program stated in a thank you letter that the training stands out as one of the best they have ever attended.  “We were able to walk away and feel more equipped with a new understanding and strategies in dealing with feeding and nutrition issues.”  

The responses reflect the Fellowship offering insight from more than 20 presenters, ranging from nutrition educators to farm-to-school and private-sector agriculture and food industry leaders. Importantly, two superstar WISHH Cochran alumnae returned to serve as trainers of the class of 2016 and share ways to improve child nutrition in Central America and Africa.  

2012 Alumna Paola Escobar, a food engineer with Alimentos S.A., traveled to the 2016 program thanks to WISHH leveraging its soybean checkoff support from the Michigan Qualified State Soybean Board.   2014 Alumna Wilna Oldewage-Theron also joined to pass on her expertise during the WISHH 2016 training held in Washington, D.C., Delaware and Virginia.  

2014 Cochran Training Inspires Ten New Soy-Based Foods for South Africa

Oldewage-Theron was a professor and Director of the Centre of Sustainable Livelihoods, Vaal University of Technology in South Africa when she participated in WISHH’s 2014 Cochran Fellowship training. Now a professor of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University, she remains active in South African nutrition initiatives. 

“I attended the program in 2014 and benefited immensely by learning about school nutrition programs in the United States of America and other countries,” said Oldewage-Theron of WISHH’s 2014 Midwest Workshop Practical Implementation of Quality School Feeding Programs: Ensuring Quality Nutrition at an Affordable Cost.  “I left the program to go back to South Africa motivated and inspired to go and make a difference in my country.”

Specifically, WISHH’s 2014 program encouraged Oldewage-Theron to address the lack of high-quality, nutritious soy-based food products in South Africa. She succeeded in garnering funding to develop ten food products that are slated to finish research trials in 2017.
To learn more about International School Meals Day, go to 

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