The book was developed by the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) in collaboration with the WFP. Its first edition won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2017 and earned a victory in the "Food Security" category, as well as a special jury award.
At the presentation, Pavel Evseev, the head of the International Development Assistance Division of the International Financial Relations Department of the Ministry of Finance of Russia, emphasized that the main donor of the School Meals Programme in Tajikistan is ready for assistance and dialogue: "It is very important for us, as the donors, to see the situation in order to better understand how the budget is being constructed. We need every dollar, every ruble, every somoni reaching every child in the form of such delicious salads, drinks and dishes."
The WFP Director in Tajikistan, Alberto Mendes expressed confidence that the School Meals Programme can change lives: "This is a good example of how we ensure the high quality of the School Meals Programme in the country. In the future, we want to transfer the responsibilities for the long-term implementation of a sustainable programme to the Government of Tajikistan, but it is important to understand that school meals are not only food, but also good conditions, high-quality equipment and facilities, and infrastructure."
Vladimir Chernigov, the SIFI President, also noted that even the lack of education does not threaten the life and health of children, but improper nutrition affects them directly on a daily basis: "I am deeply convinced that children's feeding programmes, especially when they go to educational or other social institutions, is an absolute priority for the development of any country in the world. Further small bricks are waiting for us in the large building of the school feeding system in the Republic of Tajikistan, and I think that this book will become a good foundation for it."
The first edition of the book has already shown how much school chefs and parents need help and guidance. This is understandable: providing a healthy and varied menu for children, trying to cook their favorite dishes of national cuisine, using inexpensive ingredients, five days a week is not an easy task.
When the book was being developed, the authors involved cooks and parents in its creation, making a list of dishes of national cuisine that were familiar and loved by the children. The book was presented in two thousand rural schools and public libraries of Tajikistan.
Time has proved that there is a demand for new recipes, useful tips on the rules for the arrangement of catering units, safety measures for working in the kitchen, sanitary rules and standards. All this was taken into account in the preparation of the second edition.
It also became clear that children welcome tasty experiments. They like to explore the world and broaden their horizons by tasting national dishes of other countries. In order to enable cooks to help them with this, the book included traditional recipes of Italian, Russian, Brazilian, Kyrgyz, Armenian and American cuisines.
The updated version of the Book presents more than a hundred recipes. All of them are very diverse, but selected according to the uniting principles.
First: the products must be affordable, fresh, natural, and locally produced.
Second: all the dishes must meet the needs of a growing organism in terms of containing certain macro- and microelements and nutrients. The book contains information on the calories, vitamins, fats, proteins and carbohydrates content of each recipe.
At the Book presentation event, participants were able to experience what it feels like to be a cook in practice, choose and cook dishes for children according to all the rules of school meals. The guests took part in an entertaining quiz on knowledge of the basic principles of organizing school meals. Then they tried on the role of school chefs and prepared dishes from a limited list of products: tasty, healthy and beautiful!
Based on the results of the culinary competition, invited expert Yak hon Azonov (MD, chief scientific consultant of the National Research Institute of Nutrition) commented on all the dishes prepared by the participants and explained the benefits of the ingredients in these dishes for children.
And no food presentation can go without food! Everyone could feel like a Tajik schoolboy, tasting the dishes of their favorite canteen prepared by the recipes from the Book: drinks from dried fruits and seasonal vegetables and fruits, school buns, Altai (red) pies with dried apricots, potatoes, apples, cabbage, traditional pumpkin sambusa.