Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
Fight Child Malnutrition in Rural Guatemala
A harvest of radishes during the garden training
A harvest of radishes during the garden training

Our School Nutrition program team has been busy preparing cooking workshops for mothers and students at Nueva Vida, Nueva Providencia, and Pacoc Primary Schools. Last year, the team had real success with recipes like zucchini spaghetti and swiss chard wraps. This year, they want to focus again on vegetables like zucchini, but will be creating zucchini croquettes and zucchini boats containing cheese.

The moms who participated last year told us that they “loved the trainings,” and they use veggies like zucchini and swiss chard “much more often now. They wanted to learn more recipes with those vegetables. “So we’re incorporating that into this year’s cooking workshops,” explained Sandy Mendoza, the Organic School Gardens Educator.

The team has also been busying leading teacher trainings in the organic school gardens. The team has led two trainings so far at Nueva Vida Primary School. These trainings focused on using the organic school garden as an educational tool in the classroom. “The organic gardens aren’t only for the nourishment of the school community,” explained Sandy.  “Students are learning powerful lessons about math, science, and more.”

Now as we move into the rainy season, teachers and students are focused on ways to prevent over-watering of their plants. They diligently check to see if the plants are sitting in standing water, or if water is draining correctly from the soil. With a healthy garden and healthy recipes, communities are well-equipped with tools to nourish themselves and their families.

Nueva Vida students learn to plant seeds
Nueva Vida students learn to plant seeds
The Nueva Vida Primary School's garden
The Nueva Vida Primary School's garden
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Harvested veggies used for school meals
Harvested veggies used for school meals

After a two-month long vacation, school is back in session in Guatemala! Our School Nutrition project team is in the planning stages of designing new cooking trainings for parents and students, and soon students at our partner schools will begin to receive daily school meals. We are excited to see the impact that our project will make in 2017!

At the beginning of January our Pueblo a Pueblo team reviewed the School Nutrition project’s impact results for 2016. Thanks to the support of our GlobalGiving donors, in 2016 our beneficiary schools harvested a total of 2,333 pounds of produce from the organic school gardens. These fruits and veggies were then used to cook school meals for the students.

Throughout the year, we served 30,301 school meals, benefiting 432 students for the first time. According to Ana Cabrera, the School Nutrition Project Manager, “With these school meals, students received important nutrients, not only for their bodies, but also to stay alert in class. They get a full helping of veggies that they might otherwise not get at home”.

Also with your contributions, 69 mothers and 77 students attended cooking workshops, receiving training on nutrition and food safety. Mothers and students learned how to cook with nutrient dense veggies like spinach, zucchini, and Swiss chard!

Your donations translated into real impact for communities in rural Guatemala last year. Thank you for your support, and we are ready to continue our work in 2017!

2016 cooking workshops
2016 cooking workshops
Cooking and serving nutrient dense foods
Cooking and serving nutrient dense foods
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Students washing veggies
Students washing veggies

Just because the school year is over, that doesn’t mean the learning stops in our communities in rural Guatemala! In November, we sponsored Vacation in the Gardens, a two-week camp of gardening, cooking, and nutrition activities at Nueva Vida Primary School.

Throughout these two weeks, 30 students learned about important organic gardening techniques, like preserving seed diversity. Students also spent time in the kitchen, learning about food safety, such as how to properly wash vegetables and fruits before cooking.

During the last few days of Vacation in the Gardens, everyone participated in a cooking workshop, where they learned to make Swiss chard wraps. Previously a dish taught to mothers of Nueva Vida Primary School, this time students were in charge of the cooking. Together with Sandy Mendoza, Pueblo a Pueblo’s Organic School Gardens Educator, children washed the produce, chopped the veggies, and cooked on the stovetop. The children loved tasting something they had prepared themselves.

“It’s important that boys and girls learn how to cook healthy dishes at a young age.” Activities like the cooking workshops and Vacation in the Gardens are “helping children learn invaluable skills they can use to nourish themselves and their families as they grow older,” commented Ana Cabrera, the School Nutrition Program Manager.

Nourishing the minds and tummies of students in rural Guatemala is possible only with the support of donors like you. As we near the end of the year, Pueblo a Pueblo is counting on you to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $60,000. With every dollar, we can continue the cycle of change for communities in rural Guatemala. Together we can serve more school meals, hold more nutrition workshops, and empower more communities.

Donate today to make a difference in rural Guatemalan communities!

Sandy demonstrating how to safely cut veggies
Sandy demonstrating how to safely cut veggies
Students repurposing plastic bottles into crafts
Students repurposing plastic bottles into crafts
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Meals served at Nueva Vida School
Meals served at Nueva Vida School

Pueblo a Pueblo’s School Health and Nutrition program has been going strong. Thanks to the meals we help provide to our beneficiary schools, students have the nutrients they need to stay energized throughout the school day.  During July and August, a total of 17,136 meals were served to 432 students at Pacoc, Nueva Vida and Nueva Providencia elementary schools.  That’s a lot of full tummies and minds ready to learn!  The meals are supplemented by the produce the students harvest from their organic school gardens.

Alongside meals, we have been hosting school nutrition trainings for mothers and their children. From a total of 12 trainings, 69 mothers and 66 students attended and learned about the olla familiar (the Guatemalan food pyramid equivalent), food groups and serving sizes. These trainings also include a cooking component -- featuring a special ingredient -- Swiss chard!

Chard is a vegetable full of important vitamins and minerals, and it is grown in the organic school gardens at our beneficiary schools. However, once the chard is harvested, families often don’t know how to cook it. According to Ana Cabrera, the School Health and Nutrition project Manager, "It’s not enough to know how to grow the vegetables -- you have to know how to eat them."

So during the trainings, mothers and students have been learning how to make Swiss chard wraps. Using the Chard as a base, they fill the inside with ham, chicken, or cheese, and then lightly pan fry the wraps. Our beneficiary families now have a new recipe they can make for dinner while getting a healthy serving of vitamin K, magnesium and potassium! You might like to try them too, we think they’re delicious.

Mothers learning about the olla familiar
Mothers learning about the olla familiar
Mothers cooking during the training
Mothers cooking during the training
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The renovated kitchen at La Cumbre School
The renovated kitchen at La Cumbre School

Our School Nutrition project has been very busy the first half of this year. Hot school meals were put on hold for six months while we took on a huge project in our partner schools: kitchen renovations.

In many of the schools, kitchen conditions were so poor that it was difficult to prepare students meals. At La Cumbre School, for example, there was no proper sink for washing hands, vegetables, or cooking pots. Kitchens lacked equipment like pots and pans, and the pots they did have had holes in them. There were no counters or storage space, so materials were stored on the floor, and the cooks (school mothers) were forced to prepare food on very old tables that were difficult to keep clean. At Nueva Vida School, the kitchen measured only 6 by 7 feet -- in a school serving over 270 students!  

Even though the students had access to healthy food, there was no way to guarantee that the food could be prepared effectively and hygienically. After conducting an evaluation of the kitchens at each of our partner schools, we decided to partner with school leadership to undertake renovations at four schools.

Since the beginning of 2016, we have worked with leadership at Nueva Vida, San Andres, Pacoc, and Nueva Providencia Schools. At  La Cumbre, we supported the installation of a new absorption well, new counters and shelving, and a new sink. At Nueva Vida, the kitchen was expanded, and a new roof was built to prevent leaks into the kitchen. And all of the schools now have new pots and pans and other necessary kitchen utensils.

Along with kitchen renovations, Pueblo a Pueblo educators have been working with the mothers who prepare the school meals. Mothers have learned to cook more nutritious meals using a variety of new ingredients, like spinach.

We began providing meals again this week, now that the kitchen improvements are finished, and we are very happy with the results--so are the mothers who will be using them!

Preparing food in the new kitchen at La Cumbre
Preparing food in the new kitchen at La Cumbre
Cooking a nutritious meal for our students
Cooking a nutritious meal for our students
Pacoc School's renovated kitchen
Pacoc School's renovated kitchen
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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Ana Cabrera
Project Leader:
Ana Cabrera
Neenah, WI United States

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