Already more than 100 million Latin American and Caribbean children are eating healthier thanks to the school canteen. The Brazilian example has inspired thirteen other countries to their own schoolmaaltijdenprogramma.
Sunita Daniel still remember the school lunches in her native Saint Lucia until a few years ago: many processed foods, mostly imported, and very little locally grown products.
That changed when they in 2014 Brazil visited and the schoolmaaltijdenprogramma got to know. Therein is constant attention to a balanced diet and integration with local, family farming.
“When I came back, I told to my government: this is a good example of what we can do,” says Daniel, who was then Head of Planning of the ministry of Agriculture.
Now works also the small Caribbean island on the improvement of school meals and local producers, especially of family farming, a priority.
Mothers grow own vegetables
In Belle Vue, a municipality in the southwest of Saint Lucia, inspired the school canteen, the women of the community, even to their own vegetable garden to start. ‘They came to the school canteen and told them that vegetables wanted to produce,” says Daniel, now director of the schoolmaaltijdenprogramma on Saint Lucia.
“Many of them have children at the school.’ The school organized a day nursery for the children that have not yet schoolplichtig were. This allowed the mothers to the garden theme. Thirty mothers received now has a steady income.
In Belle Vue, a municipality in the southwest of Saint Lucia, inspired the school canteen, the women of the community, even to their own vegetable garden to start.
Saint Lucia is not alone. In the entire Latin American and the Caribbean region in recent years, new schoolmaaltijdenprogramma’s launched, that healthy nutrition, public purchases, family farming and social inclusion combine.
Brazil, as an example. The national schoolmaaltijdenprogramma is already active for many years and now forms the core of regional cooperation. That is currently focused on thirteen countries and has the support of the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Every day healthy diet
‘We offer each school day healthy foods, and we link that to the nutrition education and purchases at familieboeren,” says the Brazilian Najla Veloso, the regional coordinator for schoolmaaltijdenprogramma’s, about the situation in her own country.
In Brazil, a country with 208 million inhabitants, more than 41 million students to one or more meals in school canteens, through a coordinated policy of the federal, state and local governments.’In no country is such a thing, ” says Veloso.
In 2009, five Latin American countries to work together around school meals, today they are all with thirteen: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
We offer every school day healthy foods, and we link that to the nutrition education and purchases at familieboeren.
Najla Veloso, the regional coordinator for schoolmaaltijdenprogramma in Brazil
According to Veloso have already more than 68 million schoolchildren in the region, the Brazilian is not included, benefited from these innovative programs. Also the links with local communities and farmers there became stronger.
In every country have the schoolmaaltijdenprogramma’s taken another form. In Saint Lucia, for example, the government has with the private sector affiliated to funds. As she can today eight – to nine thousand school aged children from five to twelve years, healthy meals provide, says Daniel.
Impact for decades
In Honduras grew, a collaboration from the bottom up, from municipalities and schools. “We have only since last year, a schoolmaaltijdenwet, but that hasn’t stopped us because we work from the basis”, says Joselino Pacheco, coordinator of the Honduran schoolmaaltijdenprogramma. The new Honduran law supports the social organizations involved in the process.
Everything we children fail in terms of eating habits, it is later much harder to change.
Ricardo Rapallo, coordinator of the program ” Central America Without Hunger
These are investments that in the short-term wages, with better nutrition of the children, but also for decades to have an impact on the health, says Ricardo Rapallo, coordinator of the program ” Central America Without Hunger. “Everything we children fail in terms of eating habits, it is later much harder to change.’
Everyone seems to agree: what in the school canteens happens, it is essential for the economic, social and environmental development of Latin America. It is a crucial instrument to several of the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG’s), for which the deadline is 2030.