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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Newest Project - A School Nutrition Program

School Nutrition Project “Food for Life” 2016

Godinez, Guatemala

Godinez is located in the region of Solola. Solola's capital Solola is approximately 12.0 km / 7.5 miles away from Godinez (as the crow flies). The distance from Godinez to Guatemala's capital (Guatemala City) is approximately 64 km / 39 miles (as the crow flies). 

 The elevation of Godinez is 7076 feet above sea level.

The family structure in the small town often includes extended family, and due to the lack of available employment opportunities there is extreme poverty. 

Malnutrition and the associated problems are at epidemic levels. 

There are very few resources available to help this community since Godinez is a small isolated town without the attraction of tourism and just far enough away from the more developed communities to prevent access to their programs.

Under the direction and supervision of Mr. Austreberto Velasquez, there is a public school in which he founded 15 years ago at the request of the community. With very little resources, and with the help of the community, he built the school that now serves 115 students.

In an effort to combat the serious malnutrition of his students, Mr. Velasquez has begun a variety of programs including having the students grow food on the school property to take home.

In addition, the families of the community use wood to cook their meals and the wood must be harvested from the hillside surrounding the town, Mr. Velasquez has also developed a student program to reforest the local hills. This program will not only help prevent dangerous mudslides, but it will also provide long-term replenishment of the much-needed and much-used wood.

Yet the lingering problem is that the children suffer greatly from not having a regular diet of nutritious food. 

The custom in the town is for families to use their available monies to have a nice meal on Sundays that might include some meat, fish, or vegetable, and then attempt to sustain themselves on a diet of tortillas and salt for the rest of the week. You can imagine how this limited diet can negatively affect the health of the children.

Mr. Beto Velasquez hopes that in time his self-sustaining programs will allow for better nutrition for the children and the community, but it will take some time to grow the programs.

Mr. Velasquez was asked; if possible, what type of help would be beneficial for his students? 

He stated that a temporary nutrition program offering a substantial portion of nutritious foods to each child two times per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be of great help. 

He mentioned that unlike some nutrition programs, he desired for it to be limited in amount and duration, emphasizing that culturally “feeding the family” needed to remain to be the father’s responsibility.  

He suggested that possibly a two-year program would be beneficial with the first year having the students receive assistance twice a week, and the second year only once a week. Clarifying that at the end of the second year the program would terminate allowing the family and community to resume full responsibility for the nutrition of the children.

The funds required to support such a program were estimated to be Q5 ($0.66) per serving of food.
The program would serve 115 students and 9 teachers (culturally the teachers should eat with the students as models and they can also ensure that the students consume the food) with “Highly Nutritious” food offered 2 times per week.

The program will employ a Program Director, and her role will be as follows:

Principal functions:

·         Review the nutritional status of the foods offered.
·         Weekly – Physically visit the program and monitor the quality of menu.
·         Monitoring the hygiene during food preparation.
·         Rotate the menu every two months.
·         Be the liaison and point of contact for the program.
·         Make payment to suppliers / cooks weekly.
·         Conduct a semiannual review of students and prepare a report to the progress of the program. Weights of students will be documented at the beginning and end of school year / project.
·         Create the annual report.

Sample menus that have been priced out and include preparation:

Number 1
Number 2
Number 3
Number 4
Number 5
Chicken tacos
Chopped radish salad
Salsa of Tomato
3 Tortillas
1 fruit
1 cup mush
Fish Fry
Cucumber salad
3 Tortillas
1 cup pineapple   smoothie

Scrambled Eggs
Cast beans
3 Tortillas
1 cup bean porridge drink

Chicken Asado
Tomato sauce
3 Tortillas
1 cup fresh Jamaica

Beef Steak
3 Tortillas
1 fruit
1 cup rice drink with chocolate

Program Costs

Price of food per child, includes preparation cost
Number of Program participants
Days food served per week
Tuesday & Thursday
Weekly food and preparation
Total days food will be given in the 2016 school year
Total Cost of food and preparation
Total cost for Program  Director at $36.19
 a week




*Calculations made using an exchange rate of Q7.6 per $1

Total Cost of Program for 2016 = $7874.74

The school year started in mid January and ends in late November 2016.

Deacon Patrick and Liz Kearns, local Catholic Missionaries, have offered to assist the program at no cost to the program.

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Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Please pray for Liz and me and for our mission. May you be filled always with God's love. Deacon Pat