Super flour saves the day for children in Nepal

Sumitra Chepang feeds a spoonful of super porridge to her 10-month-old daughter, Promisa, in their home in the village of Syammaidada, Nepal. — Mennonite Central Committee Sumitra Chepang feeds a spoonful of super porridge to her 10-month-old daughter, Promisa, in their home in the village of Syammaidada, Nepal. — Mennonite Central Committee

A jar on a shelf in Sumitra ­Chepang’s kitchen has a secret identity. By all appearances, it is just a jar of mild-mannered flour. But under the lid is something spectacular — super flour!

While this super flour isn’t wearing a cape, it is changing the lives of thousands of children in Nepal.

Six of them are the children of Chepang, who lives in the rural village of Syammaidada, not far from the capital city, Kathmandu.

Her family’s income came from selling produce, but pandemic restrictions have eliminated their ability to bring it to market. Without that income, her family often didn’t have enough to eat.

Food insecurity is a major problem in Nepal, especially in the rural areas, where nearly 40% of children under 5 have their growth stunted due to malnutrition.

Through Mennonite Central Committee’s account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Nepali partner organization Shani Nepal, Chepang was given a supply of super flour to ensure her children were getting the nutrients they need to grow healthily.

But it’s more than just a delivery service. Staff from Shanti Nepal also taught her how to make super flour herself.

“I used to make simple rice flour to feed my young children,” Chepang said. “I was not aware about eating a balanced diet, but now I learned about eating three food groups in a meal. I also learned to make super flour, kitchen gardening and healthy behaviors.”

Super flour is a catch-all term for a blend of flours from grains, pulses (seeds from legumes) and proteins. It’s loaded with the calories, protein, calcium and iron young children need, and it’s easy to make, store and prepare.

The super flour Chepang makes is a combination of corn, wheat and soybeans that she roasts and grinds herself before storing.

If she adds water — or heated milk for her older kids — to the super flour, she can easily make a tasty super porridge that doesn’t require any additional cooking.

She says her kids love the super porridge. Her 10-month-old, Promisa, has been eating it since she turned 6 months old.

“It tastes mild without adding other flavor,” said Chepang, 35. “But I make it in different tastes, adding sugar or salt and leafy vegetables or fruits based on the season and availability. Promisa wants to change the taste often.”

Super flour’s adaptability and ease of storage have helped thousands of children in Nepal achieve healthy growth and a nutritional balance they might not have without it.

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