Australia Awards alumni and nutrition expert Paulino Pinto is no stranger to food vulnerability. Growing up in small village in Lautem, he helped his mother every day after his father died, by selling bread after school so they had enough money to eat and feed his four siblings.

Paulino credits this early experience as motivating him to want to help poor families with malnourished children and to study hard at school.

After finishing school Paulino gained a scholarship to study for a bachelor’s in biomedical science at Victoria University, Melbourne, and when he returned home he got his first job as a Nutrition Officer with UNICEF where he quickly realised how important nutrition programs were to a new nation like Timor-Leste.

To further strengthen his nutrition skills and knowledge he then undertook a Master of Public Nutrition at Flinders University where he enjoyed interacting with other international students and studying the relationship between food buyers and food growers.

Paulino currently works with the World Food Programme and remains passionate about combatting under nutrition. At WFP he’s applied the qualitative research methods he learned during his master’s in leading the testing of fortified rice with school students for the government’s national school feeding programme. He’s hopeful that with programmes like this that the malnutrition rate, particularly stunting Timor can be reduced in the next 5 years.

Today he’s celebrating World Food Day he told us ‘It’s a great moment to encourage everybody from policy makers, social and economic development program implementers, and individual households to address the issue of malnutrition in Timor-Leste.’