The Early Childhood Nutrition (ECN) program continues to create an impact in the communities Feed the Hungry serves. On January 27, we expanded this program to the community of La Cuadrilla, where nutritious meals have been served through our regular meals program to school-aged children since 2002. Now through the ECN program, pregnant women as well as children ages 0-4 and their mothers can receive regular meals at our school kitchen. Study after study has shown that the effects of malnutrition during pregnancy and infancy are irreversible, even if good nutrition is
provided later on in life.
On the first day of service, six mothers and eight toddlers showed up on a chilly morning to receive plates of food cooked by sisters Fabiola and Irma Perez Morales, mothers from the community.
Some of the mothers and their toddlers walked 25 minutes to get to the kitchen.
Maria Guadalupe and her three-year-old son, Cristo, heard by word of mouth that the comedor escolar (the school dining room, which is how the FTH kitchens are commonly referred to) was going to begin serving food to mothers and toddlers, and she could not pass up that opportunity.
“Es una bendición para mi y mi hijo recibir este alimento, mi esposo trabaja en construcción en un rancho, pero hay veces que no nos alcanza,” said Maria. (It is a blessing for me and my son to receive this meal; my husband works in construction in a ranch but there are times that it is not enough.)
The mothers are culturally shy and some are too timid to ask for second servings. The team of FTH professionals Daniel Frías and Chef Valentin Patlán, go out of their way to encourage them to get more. Cristo, the three-year-old and his friend Jose Andres, a four-year-old, however, aren’t too shy to ask for seconds and thirds. After getting to know the team, who give them personal attention, weigh and measure the moms and toddlers, they get to know them a little better, and finally, the mothers line up for a second serving.
In the community of La Cuadrilla, FTH serves over 115 meals a day for students at the kinder and the elementary school, as well as the adolescents attending tele-secundaria (middle school via tele/video). The moms who cook, and the teachers, also receive a meal every school day. The Early Childhood Nutrition program represents a small increase in cost, but throughout the four communities where the program has been implemented, cumulative annual meals and expenses is 20,000 meals for a cost of $18,000USD. The communities where the ECN program is fully implemented are Misión Chichimeca, Alonso Yáñez, La Campana, and the aforementioned, La Cuadrilla. There is no doubt that this initiative has provided a tremendous benefit to these communities, and we hope to be able expand this program in the future to combat prenatal and infant malnutrition.
To learn more about our work in La Cuadrilla, view the latest nutrition report as well as community demographics, please click here.