As the 2011 school year comes to an end this week in Santiago Atitlan, Pueblo a Pueblo reflects back on the growth and impact that the School Lunch program has had throughout the year. Now serving lunch in three rural schools, Panabaj, Chacaya, and La Cumbre, Pueblo a Pueblo is providing healthy and nutritious meals to over 700 children who would not otherwise have access to a meal of protein and important vitamins and minerals. Instead of a typical lunch at home of corn tortillas and salsa, or salt, children in the Pueblo a Pueblo School Lunch program are eating chicken with beans and rice, beef stew, and on other days spaghetti with vegetables. The mere existence of the school lunch program and certainty that children will be fed during school is an incentive for poor agricultural families to send their children to school. November does not only mark the end of the school year but also the beginning of the coffee harvest throughout the region. This is a busy time for families whose livelihood is dependent on the coffee harvest and young children are often pulled out of school to help harvest. The incentive of a hot lunch is enough to keep many of those children in school up to the last days of class, enabling them to complete all of their final exams and continue on to the next year.
Looking forward Pueblo a Pueblo is entering an exciting time of growth! With your support we hope to be able to expand to two more schools in the coming year, providing a much needed hot daily lunch to an additional 530 children of Atitlan, Guatemala.
The Pueblo a Pueblo School Lunch Project has expanded this year from one to three schools in the Santiago Atitlan region of Guatemala. Now a daily hot lunch is provided to nearly 600 students in the schools of Panabaj (262 students), Chacaya (134) and La Cumbre (160). Students are benefiting from lunches including meat, vegetables, and beans, which provide important nutritional benefits not otherwise available to them at home. In the coming year, and with your support, Pueblo a Pueblo hopes to expand our program to provide valuable nutritional lunches in an additional two schools, contributing to increases in health as well as academic performance and attendance.
There are 260 children enrolled in the Panabaj Elementary School this year, all of whom are benefiting from the 2011 School Lunch Program thanks to continued donations. The students are in school from 8am until 12:30 and many of them don’t have breakfast before going to school. Without the lunch program, children who are lucky enough to have a couple of quetzales ($0.25) would be buying snacks with little to no nutritional value while those without any money would simply go without anything.
Instead all of the children at the school can now depend on a nutritious hot meal to help them concentrate on their studies and contribute towards their healthy development. With your continued support, Pueblo a Pueblo is seeking to provide the same service of a reliable hot meal to the other three elementary schools in which we have school gardens. With these two complementary projects, students will gain firsthand knowledge of the basics of growing food and nutrition while being guaranteed a hot, healthy meal that incorporates the garden harvests.
Pueblo a Pueblo plans to continue our school lunch program in the Panabaj School during 2011 and will expand this important nutritional benefit to the small school community of Chacaya as well. These two schools take part in our Organic School Garden program, whose aim is to complement and support the school lunches with fresh produce grown by the students in their own school gardens. Last year, Panabaj School had 3 successful harvests which contributed healthy food to be used in the school lunch.
It costs only.30 cents a day to feed one child a healthy lunch at school- most often their only nutritious and balanced meal of the day. Your support will keep this program going and ensure children get the nutrients they need to be successful.
Thanks to the support of our caring donors, Pueblo a Pueblo’s nutritional school lunch program continues to strengthen in Santiago Atitlán. Our organization has been providing hot, nutritional lunches for the Panabaj school children all year. Similarly, since tropical storm Agatha we have provided a healthy snack to the children at Chukumuk as well. With access to food remaining the leading cause of malnutrition in Guatemala, Pueblo a Pueblo will continue to make great strides in its mission of empowering the indigenous community to improve their own lives. The second successful harvest of vegetables from our Organic School Garden gives hope for us all that one day the community will be more self-sufficient and that food shortages will be a fading memory. Until that day comes, however, the children will continue to depend on the foundation built by donors like you who see their potential. Pueblo a Pueblo and the children thank you for your generosity!
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