Food Security in School
"A hungry child is not going to pay as much attention as one who is already nurtured since morning."
Evelyn Isabel Felipe (EF)
At the School of Chiornó, Sacapulas, Quiché, the IDEA program (now called LENS), from Save the Children and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) arrived 3 years ago. LENS deals with the subsidy of provisions to strengthen school feeding, as well as technical support to the educational community, to improve the eating habits of families.
According to the director of the school, Evelyn Felipe, before the program arrived, the children exhibited their own malnutrition disorders, which currently no longer occur.
"Children presented with parts of the head without hair, their hair color changed a lot, they came with a big stomach, children came with spots on their skin, or children came and fell asleep ... All those diseases that children brought, we We knew that they were caused by a bad diet, because they were malnourished. Since the Save the Children program entered the school, we have not seen any of these cases ... Anemia is over, big stomachs are over, skin spots are over. We don't see any such cases in the classrooms ”(EF).
Evelyn has seen a significant transformation in her students, but not only physically, but also academically. He claims that children are now more retentive and more motivated. In the same way, you have noticed that the dropout rate has decreased. According to him, before it was more frequent that they dropped out of school to work and provide their families with what was necessary for their livelihood, but now parents prefer that they go to study, since the food provided there is substantial and nutritious.
“Right now the children are being sent to school at the age of 4, because they know that now there is good nutrition at school. Then they send them from a very young age. Even last year we had a 3-year-old boy who came for his food… ”(EF).
The supplies the school receives from the USDA consist of rice, beans, and oil. For its part, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) transfers 4 quetzales a day, for each child, to the Organization of Parents (OPF), with which corn, incaparina, meats, fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods are purchased.
Juana Castro Tum, mother of the community, explains that, in addition to the food they receive, they have also had training on kitchen and home hygiene in general, ways to accompany food, new recipes and novel, tasty and nutritious. She, like the other parents, is very satisfied with the program, because it benefits her children, who have fewer illnesses and are happy to be able to go to school.
In this project, all adult members of the educational community have an important role. The OPF is responsible for shopping and storing the product, as well as monitoring food preparation. The principal and teachers meet once every 7 days to plan the menu for the following week, so that the OPF knows what to buy. The mothers, who have already been organized by the OPF, take turns preparing food, once every fortnight; In the kitchen there are always 4 ladies, who are coordinated by a mother guide.
Both teachers and mothers agree that the contribution has been of great help to the community, since sometimes the parents have very few resources and send the children without breakfast, moreover, school feeding, for many, has become at the main meal time.
"Practically, the feeding that the child receives at school is the most nourished, most complete feeding that the children receive during the day ..."
"They, 5 days a week have their rice, their beans and what comes with it from MINEDUC: eggs, cheese, steak, garnetted ... Meals that the children did not really know in their homes ..." (EF) .
The teachers make an effort so that the menu is varied and balanced, which makes the children very happy, because the food is not boring, nor repetitive. When the teachers are absent (because they have a medical appointment, for example), the children, even if they are not going to have classes, come to school to receive their food.
"... The children do not come to school to study, but they do show up at 9:30 (lunch time) with their plate and glass ... The food they come to receive and it is not that we have told them that come to eat, but they already have that need to come to receive their food here in the school ”(EF).
“The little school has taken it as a blessing, because, in fact, we feel very happy to be part of the program, very satisfied with the achievements that we have seen within the establishment. When we start classes we long for the program to start working, because we know the needs that children have ”(EF).