Gregoria Sanchez waits with her two children to receive their monthly ration of a fortified-maize soy meal called VitaCereal™ from the World Food Program (WFP). She walks several miles from her home for the ration because she knows it makes a difference in her children’s health.
The eight-month-old baby that Gregoria is carrying is chubby, alert and healthy. Her other son, who is two and a half, looks healthy at first glance; but if you compare the heights of the two children, you notice that there is very little difference between them.
“We had no VitaCereal™ when I was pregnant the first time. I don’t think they had started giving it out. But I ate it quite often when I got pregnant again and then when I was breast feeding,” Gregoria says, as about 25 other young mothers look on and nod their heads.
All the mothers gathered at the La Ceiba maternal health center in Guatemala’s Alta Verapaz region agree that eating VitaCereal™ while pregnant means babies emerge bigger and healthier. And if you carry on supplementing your diet with it after the birth, your breast milk is thicker and more abundant.
With the fourth highest rate of chronic undernutrition in the world, 49.3 percent of Guatemalan children under five are undernourished. Rates are even higher in rural regions where the indigenous population is concentrated: seven out of ten children under five are undernourished. And 22 percent of Guatemala’s total population is undernourished.
There are several reasons behind these rates: health services, water and sanitation systems, and adequate food sources are most prevalent in rural areas. Poverty reaches 70 percent of the Guatemalan population in rural areas.
The World Food Program in Guatemala supports 350,000 people through programs like School Meals, preschool feeding, and mother and child healthcare. WFP supports 50,000 vulnerable households in remote areas to create and preserve their natural assets and thus improve their livelihoods under Food For Work and Food For Training activities.
WFP operations also provide nutritional food to 86,000 children and adolescents and 12,000 children at day care centers in rural areas. WFP support helps provide basic health services and supplementary food to 125,000 pregnant and lactating women and children under age five to reduce the prevalence of chronic undernutrition in the most affected areas of the country.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Guatemala depend on the World Food Program for their nutritional needs and healthy survival. In order to continue WFP’s life-saving programs and provide for those severely affected by chronic undernutrition, WFP needs further financial support. Generous, caring individuals like you enable those families suffering from the effects of poverty to survive with WFP’s assistance. Thank you for your support!