Food Security and Nutrition
According to the USAID, in 2006, 45% of the 5.7 million Nicaragua inhabitants
live on less than $1 a day, which is the extreme poverty line. Consequently,
food insecurity is rampant and malnutrition levels also are high, affecting
approximately 30% of the population at the national level and 45% in some
communities, according to UNICEF. This is the case particularly in the region of Madriz, the northwest dry corridor of Nicaragua, where Fabretto works in the municipalities of Somoto, Las Sabanas, and San Jose de Cusmapa. Poverty cycles, coupled with adverse climatological conditions and low production technology, contribute to the state of food insecurity. Children, who’s physical, psychological, and cognitive development are dramatically affected by nutritional deficiencies, are impacted by food insecurity, which in turn effects education. Even if a child does attend school, lack of proper nutrition impedes his or her ability to actually learn.
There is a strong correlation between a child’s nutritional status, or proper physical development, and their ability to learn or succeed in school. Thus, the consequences of food insecurity inevitably also limit their educational abilities.
In addition to school lunches, Fabretto promotes school and family gardens so that students, teachers, and families learn small-scale production of nutritious foods. In order to optimize local resources, sustainable and organic techniques are used in the education process. Parents also volunteer in the gardens, and consequently learn how to grow fruits and vegetables for their own families, while utilizing available community resources. The gardens contribute to the sustainability of the lunches, as well as add to the community’s productive capacity.
Furthermore, Fabretto implements educational-related activities where students, parents, and teachers learn about nutrition and good consumption habits. In many cases, nutritional foods are indeed found in communities; however, these are not consumed due to lack of knowledge of their nutritional value. The educational process encourages an improvement in consumption habits for rural and urban families through the identification, production and use of healthy foods. The nutritional workshops focus on food preparation and food combination in order to guarantee balanced and nutritious meals for children and families in general.
Fabretto also organizes small producers and students in the rural secondary program (called SAT) and through the Vocational and Life Skills Program, in order to stimulate and increase the production of vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Producers and students receive technical assistance in the field, as well as in the management and marketing of their small businesses. The grown fruits and vegetables are used in the school lunch menu, and the groups are encouraged to use any excess production for their families’ consumption or for sale in local markets. In that way, the Food Security and Nutrition Program contributes to better consumption habits, as well as helps generate needed income for accessing other foods and basic family necessities.
- More than 10,500 students in more than 50 schools and seven Fabretto centers receive a daily school lunch
- More than 84% of children who receive school lunch have a positive growth pattern
- 39 primary schools work with school gardens as part of productive initiatives
- 675 high school students are integrated in the SAT program, learning about sustainable production techniques
- Producer networks are in the pilot phase, as well as early nutrition programming