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Students Duan Menghao and Lan Bingqi smile happily while having their lunch in a Spring Sprout Kitchen at No 3 Experimental Primary School in Shaanxian county in Central China's Henan province. The kitchen is part of the nationwide Amway (China) Co sponsored Spring Sprout Project. Provided to China Daily
Amway project builds kitchens in central and western schools for boarders
"Amway (China) Co will build another 1,000 school kitchens this year as part of the Spring Sprout Project," said Frances Yu, vice-president of public affairs of the US direct-selling giant.
The Spring Sprout Project was initiated by Amway in 2011 and is in partnership with the China National Committee for the Care of Children. The project aims to establish Spring Sprout Kitchens and train kitchen administrations for boarding schools in central and western China with high concentrations of "left-behind" children so that students of the poverty-stricken areas can have balanced and nutritional meals.
The Spring Sprout Kitchen program was inspired by research in Hebei, Yunnan, Guizhou and Shaanxi provinces, where the lack of quality school kitchens is a big problem.
At the beginning of 2011, experts and researchers of the Amway Charity Foundation, which was formed and funded by Amway China, went to the kitchens of boarding schools in impoverished rural areas.
They found out that in these regions many boarding schools do not have kitchens and students have to resort to building campsite fires in the schoolyard to cook.
The schools that have kitchens do not have the means to equip them with essential cookware, or storage/refrigeration devices. This makes it impossible to keep fresh or perishable foods, let alone prepare them.
As a result, most of the students in these regions have never had a nutritionally balanced meal, not even with a government subsidy. Their daily menu usually consists of rice with beans or boiled potatoes.
Research conducted by the China Development Research Foundation on primary school students in four boarding schools in western China show that nearly 12 percent of school-age children in these areas suffer from growth retardation and 72 percent are hungry during classes. The average weight of boys and girls is far lower than that in other parts of the country. These male and female students are on average 11 centimeters and 9 cm shorter respectively than their urban counterparts.
China has 71 million rural children of grade-school age. An overwhelming majority of them are undernourished in body and mind. Many live in impoverished conditions and are not getting a proper education.
Amway Charity Foundation has invested 42 million yuan ($6.72 million) in the past 18 months in building 700 kitchens in primary schools in poor areas. It has benefited 350,000 Chinese children, providing warm nutritious meals through its kitchen project. ACF plans to invest another 50 to 60 million yuan to build 1,000 school kitchens in the country, according to Yu.
"However, that's still a small proportion of the children who need assistance. Only with the participation of more individuals, organizations and local governments can we service the needs of the ever-increasing population of vulnerable children in China who deserve a better life," said Yu.
Amway Charity Foundation, founded in 2011, is the first non-public foundation with a multinational corporate background that is under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. With a starting fund of 100 million yuan, it was established by Amway China in accordance with the Regulation on Foundation Administration.
In the past year, ACF was like a powerful magnet attracting many charitable forces from society. As of Dec 31, 2011, donations to ACF totaled 122 million yuan.
"Amway China will continue conducting corporate responsibility activities every year, which is a must-to-do for a company. The ideas behind the activities will pass on to every operation and all employees," said Yu.
Amway is one of the world's largest direct-selling companies, with sales of $10.9 billion in 2011. Founded in 1959 in Michigan, Amway operates in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide. At present, more than 3 million Amway distributors sell the company's health, beauty and home products, such as its Nutrilite brand health food products.
Amway entered China in 1995. Last year the company achieved sales of $4 billion in the country. The company said its global sales target would reach $12 billion by the end of last year.
In 2011, Amway China was one of 13 finalists and the only Chinese company to compete for the US Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence.
(China Daily 01/28/2013 page22)