Turning moms into master chefs to keep kids healthy

Without a doubt, amazing volunteer moms around the world are the key to CI’s success. By providing nutrition workshops and cooking classes for moms, we empower them to keep kids nourished and healthy and train other parents in their communities on how to prepare nutritious and affordable meals. Check out the photos below of these moms in action in Ecuador, The Philippines, Colombia and Mexico.

Volunteer mothers with CI’s nutrition program in Ecuador stand in the kitchen with ingredients for salad.

Cooking in Quito, Ecuador

Mothers Laura Segura, Patricia Muenala and Carmen Tenorio in Quito, Ecuador, received training on preparing nutritious foods from CI, and now they’re paying it forward by teaching other moms healthy recipes.

Ecuador moms prepare ingredients for making quinoa salad.

They get all of the ingredients ready for an up-close cooking demonstration. On today’s menu: quinoa salad.


Ecuador moms instruct other moms on how to make quinoa salad.

Moms of CI kids come to the community center kitchen to watch the demonstration and pick up healthy cooking tips ...

Close-up image of quinoa and greens salad served on a plate.

… and get free samples! (Looks good, right?)

Two young girls from Ecuador sit side by side and try the salad.

The moment of truth: it’s healthy, but is it tasty?

Two young girls from Ecuador sit side by side and try the salad, and they like it!

Kid tested. Kid approved.

Photos by Andrés Rosero, field reporter, Quito, Ecuador.

Volunteer mother stands in front of a giant pot filled with vegetables and noodles.

Meals in Manila, Philippines

In Manila, Philippines, volunteer moms like Elsie Acilum cook large batches of nutrient-rich foods to serve to malnourished CI kids enrolled in our feeding program. 

Volunteer mother stands in front of a giant pot filled with vegetables and noodles.

Let’s peek through the window and see what’s cooking. It’s noodles with vegetables!

Volunteer mother spoons noodles onto plates.

Nanay (mother) Jo serves food in front of her house to feed CI kids in her neighborhood who are enrolled in the nutrition program. Breakfast is nearly ready!

A boy and a girl eat noodles at a table.

Kyla and Robert happily sit together during feeding sessions. They say they're really close neighbors.

A boy sits at a table and mixes a milk drink in a CI cup.

Did you notice those blue packets in the previous photo? That’s a fortified milk drink kids mix with water. In addition to calcium, it has extra iron, zinc and vitamin C. Here, Mark Justin mixes his milk. 

A boy eats a sandwich.

Mark Justin also has a protein-packed sandwich with egg, tuna, chicken and pineapples. Looks like he will have plenty of energy at school today.

Children eat around a table outside with a volunteer mother.

It may not be a fancy dining room, but these kids have the finest seat in the house — or just outside the house. Moms like Alicia Capaycapay make sure that CI kids get the calories and nutrients they need.

Photos by Pauline Paguia, field reporter in the Philippines.

Mother instructs other mothers about soy.

The joy of soy (and cooking) in Barranquilla, Colombia

Volunteer Elida Camacho has a zest for learning and cooking. “I try to integrate what I have learned [at CI] in every part of my life. I want my community to do the same.”

Here, she teaches moms about the nutritional benefits of soy and how to prepare inexpensive foods with soy.

Close up image of soy milk in metal cups and a soy cookie in a bowl.

“I prepare the soy milk, and my son loves it and is happy,” Elida says. 

Moms and a baby drink soy milk.

During the chat, everyone gets a taste of soy milk and a soy cookie. Yum!

Carola spoons rice onto a blue plate.

Chef mom and volunteer Carola Cañizales makes lunch in her home for malnourished children in CI’s feeding program. “A balanced nutrition is important for kids from birth to adulthood,” Carola says. 

Meatballs, vegetables, white rice and vegetable soup on a turquoise plate.

On this day, Carola prepares a delicious lunch of meatballs, green beans, carrots, white rice, vegetable soup and a cup of milk.

Girls eat at a small table during the feeding program.

Slurp, slurp, slurp! That’s the sound of satisfied kids.

Photos by Patricia Calderón, field reporter, Colombia.

Moms stand in a CI kitchen and listen to instructions about vegetables.

Moms make meals in Mexico

Unlike many other CI agencies where malnutrition is common, childhood obesity is a major problem in Mexico. That’s why we invited mothers in Guadalajara to participate in healthy cooking workshops based on Mexico’s “Good Eating Plate” guidelines. 

Moms in Mexico receive instruction on preparing vegetables.

After the workshops, the moms committed to sharing their new knowledge with other families in their communities.

Two mothers prepare a salad and squeeze lime juice on top.

These moms put the finishing touches on a fresh salad, using lime juice as a substitute for high-fat dressing. Sounds like a “good eating plate” to me!

CI staff member teaches kids the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods.

While moms were cooking, their kids learned about the food groups and which foods they should eat plenty of and which they should eat sparingly. 

Kids categorize cut-outs of foods by placing them on a giant plate.

Kids had fun adding cut-outs of food from the different food groups to this gigantic plate.

Kids stand with CI volunteer holding the My Healthy Eating Plate poster.

These kids are on their way to eating healthier.

Photos by Paola Denise Gil, field reporter in Mexico.

CI is helping kids and youth stay healthy with more contextualized programs. What does that mean?

Learn more now


Dec 9, 2016

I'm heart warmed to see the variety programs that are offered to communities through Children International. I truly know that I am giving a hand up rather than a hand out. A hand up that improves so many lives as donors and recipients all paying forward to a better tomorrow.
Thank you!

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