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World Economic Forum

Young Global Leaders announce programme to tackle child malnutrition in Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar - The Young Global Leaders (YGLs), a community of the World Economic Forum, today announced that a programme that tackles child malnutrition will expand into South-East Asia, starting with Myanmar.

Table For Two (TFT) is a Japan-based non-profit initiative created by YGLs in 2007. It confronts the contrasting epidemics of obesity and hunger by encouraging people in the developed world to eat healthily while paying for children's school meals in developing economies.

Since it was founded, TFT has served 20 million meals to school-age children in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It is now supporting meal programmes and sustainable school gardens at primary schools in Myanmar in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Children in Myanmar will be the first TFT beneficiaries before the programme is rolled out elsewhere in South-East Asia. The project will provide a long-term, sustainable source of nutrition for children in Myanmar by funding the development of fruit and vegetable gardens at schools. Across the region, economic disparities and rising food prices are putting pressure on families living in poverty. TFT aims to encourage an economy of self-sufficiency at the "base of the pyramid".

TFT has more than 600 corporate and organizational partners taking part on the funding side, spanning 12 countries across Asia, North America and Europe. The mechanism is simple: every time someone eats a healthy TFT meal at a participating restaurant or company cafeteria, a percentage is donated to fund a school meal in a developing country. The TFT model has been applied to vending machines (through snacks and drinks), coffee, healthy drinks and retail products. In Japan, a smartphone application calculates calories and nutritional content from a simple photograph of a meal.

Daniel Goldstein, Founding Member and Director, Table For Two International, said: "In Myanmar, access to adequate and nutritionally balanced food is a major challenge for the poor. Close to 3 million people are considered food-poor, according to the World Food Programme, and the prevalence of stunting among children under five is 35%, indicative of malnutrition. This is an integrated approach for a problem facing much of Asia and we are surrounded by people who can implement it right away - health experts to draw up menus, business leaders to offer it to large companies, and the aid workers who are on the ground and know how best to spend the money."

David Aikman, Senior Director and Head of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, said: "The Forum of Young Global Leaders is the voice of an optimistic future and an energetic catalyst for change. Table For Two is one the community's most successful task forces, and we are very encouraged to see it in South-East Asia, a region where 10% of the population - some 65 million - are undernourished, according to the FAO."

Over 900 participants from 55 countries are taking part in the World Economic Forum on East Asia, held for the first time in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The meeting welcomes over 100 public figures representing 15 countries, including the heads of state or government of Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. More than 550 business leaders, over 60 Global Growth Companies and nearly 300 young leaders from the Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers communities, together with other members of civil society, academia and media are convening to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Myanmar and East Asia today.


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