I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
As China Grows as a Global Economic Powerhouse, Rural Areas Get More Help
In China, a new way of thinking is happening: being open to the idea of foreign private businesses collaborating with public organisations to address social challenges. One particular challenge is that research shows that children left behind in rural boarding schools in severe poverty-stricken areas by parents who have left to find work in cities suffer from malnutrition. Sadly, nearly 12 per cent of school age children in poor rural areas suffer from growth retardation, 9 per cent have low body weight, while height and weight are at least two years behind their urban peers. As China itself has grown more prosperous, it has had struggles with health care, as the government safety net has shredded with the adoption of a more market-driven economy.
The Spring Sprout Project aims to set up Spring Sprout Kitchens and train kitchen staff for boarding schools in mid- and western China with high concentrations of left-behind children, so that these students can have balanced and nutritional meals. The Spring Sprout Project delivers healthy meals to these malnourished children of poor migrant farm workers in rural China.
This simple, yet powerful social innovation initiative is being run by Amway China and its Amway Charity Foundation, the first non-public foundation established by a multinational corporation and one that is supervised by China's Ministry of Civil Affairs. The Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship cited the Foundation's Spring Sprout childhood nutrition project as a prime example of how a company can use strategic partnerships to address a social problem. The goal is to bring locally sourced, nutritious meals to 500,000 children a day by the end of 2013; and the Foundation also has a bigger mission, which is to encourage critical changes in public policy that would help even more children.
This is a great working collaboration that pulls together local governments, which helps fund construction of the kitchen buildings and to the authorities at the children's boarding schools and the corporate resources to make it happen. Todd Woodward, Vice President, Global Amway brand, says, "We want to use the results to demonstrate how government funding of nutrition programs like Spring Sprout would make a real difference in the lives of children. A key milestone will be the government assuming responsibility for the kitchens, allowing us at the Foundation to move on to other projects." The Chinese government named Spring Sprout the "Most Influential Charity Project in China, 2011."
So far, these efforts are making a difference. More than 700 of the planned 1,000 kitchens have been built, feeding more than 150,000 children each day. Some local governments have adopted the Foundation's model to build their own school kitchens.
Photo Credit: Amway Foundation