As part of the “Back to School with Cargill” campaign, an event to welcome the new 2017 school year was held at the Doctor Manuel Maldonado School in Masaya on Wednesday, February 22. The initiative is one of the components of Cargill’s Nourishing the Future project in partnership with Care International and is implemented with the support of Fabretto. “Back to School with Cargill” will take school supplies and personal care and hygiene packages to more than 7,000 children in 30 preschools and primary schools across 9 municipalities. During this campaign, around 100 Cargill associate volunteers will be responsible for delivering the gift packages.
The packages include notebooks with educational messages about the importance of healthy eating, nutrition fact sheets, pencils, crayons, ruler, and crayons. In addition, school and cleaning supplies will be provided to 250 teachers, and the children will receive personal hygiene packages.
Maria Nelly Rivas, Regional CSR Manager of Cargill Central America explained that investment in the “Back to School with Cargill” initiative exceeds $30,000 and annual investment in support of schools exceeds $220,000. “In this school alone, we rebuilt the restrooms, built a kitchen, lunch room and storage area, repaired the water fountains, and set up games so that the children can have fun,” said Rivas.
Rivas added that a school garden was also established in the same school with the aim of including fresh produce in school meals. “Also, during the year, nutrition workshops are carried out and school meals are complemented with chicken and sausages from our Tip-Top and Cainsa brands.”
Sandra Maria, single mother of three children, is a former student of the Manuel Maldonado School; today, her daughter Deborah is studying at the same school. Sandra tells us that the school meal her daughter receives “is a great help”. “I wash and iron clothes in order to provide for my children. Knowing that my daughter is being well-fed at school takes a great weight off my shoulders.”
In 2016, schools benefiting from the Nourishing the Future Program recorded 93% school retention. Students at these schools also increased their protein consumption from 46% to 62%, vegetable consumption increased from 59% to 87%, dairy went from 53% to 74% , and eggs from 43% to 64%.
Johana is in the first grade of elementary school. “What I like the most about school is learning,” she affirms decisively. At her young age, she did not hesitate for a second when we asked. She also enjoys the school meal and says that sometimes they even get to eat apples, which are expensive in Nicaragua. Her teacher, Fanny Villavicencio, has been teaching in this school for more than 15 years and tells us that with this project, children’s attention span has improved greatly. “Many children come to school without having eaten breakfast. The meal provided at school is fundamental to having children pay attention in class. There are some students who will not miss school because they do not want to miss the free school meal.”
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