In August 20, 2011 GlobeMed at Penn State and ACUDESBAL partnered to achieve food security for three day care centers in La Canoa, a district in the Bajo Lempa region of Jiquilisco, El Salvador. These centers are located in the towns of El Presido, Amado Lopez, and Octavio Ortiz and provide services for 160 children ages 1 to 5. In addition to providing the children with both breakfast and lunch, they also provide preschool education. This prepares the children for their future education, and provides them with food and nutrition that is often unavailable to them.
The project’s construction and training phases have already been completed. In each of the three daycare centers, a tilapia tank has been built measuring 10 meters long, 1.5 meters high and 25 cm. Each tank houses 350 tilapia, which provide a rich protein source for the children. This also reduces food and transportation costs, that can now be allotted to other needs such as school, sanitation, and medical supplies. It will also decrease the debt burden that the centers must incur to provide food for the children due to lack of funding. Each center also has an agricultural garden component that is starting to provide crops for the meals provided to the children. The gardens currently contain pepino, green beans, yams, green peppers, and radishes. There are currently 70 pepino plants, 60 green beans plants, 15 yams plants, 48 green peppers plants, and 80 radishes planted. As the project expands and the proper growing seasons arise, ACUDESBAL hopes to add tomatoes, malangas, zagu, mangos, bananas and other crops into the garden’s cultivation cycle.
The gardens are maintained by the parents of the children of the centers so that they have a personal stake in the maintenance of the gardens and the nutrition of their children. The training and upkeep are directed by Salvador Gomez of ACUDESBAL, Orlanya Perez, and Rafael Gomez, two community members who work under Salvador. These three have been responsible for the overall process for the project. In addition to training the parents on how to maintain the gardens and cultivate the various crops mentioned above, they also hope that the project will inspire the adults of the community to move from the production of corn and sugar to move nutritious and healthy foods.
In June of this year, five student interns will travel to El Salvador to collect data on the heights and weights of the children involved in the project, assess progress, and make plans for the upcoming year.