School is back in session on La Gonave. For the first year we have the promise of a hot lunch for every child. It has long been a wish of the parents and teachers, but late last year it became a real possibility as we shipped our first container of fortified rice product from Stop Hunger Now to the island. There were many unknowns: how to get it there, where to store it, how to get it into the mountains and safely stored until used. It was a gift that came to us like “manna from heaven” so we decided to accept it with gratitude and solve the problems as we got to them. After all, that is what faith is all about, no?
Well, that faith has proven to be rewarded. We began small as school was winding down and decided to roll the program out to some of the schools that were already sourcing and serving lunch from local means. The new product which is fortified with soybeans and a packet of vitamins and minerals was well received. Over the summer we worked to outfit the other schools so that the new school year would open with lunch for everyone.
This week, we are excited to learn that we are in line for another container shipment and with this gift we will be set for feeding all 1700 students for the whole school year…and all for 25 cents a meal! Yes, a student can eat a hot and nutritious meal for a mere $.25.
Now, we start the year with 1700 students to feed, but what we know is that providing a meal at school increases the number of children who will attend. The parents in our communities will work hard to find a way to send their children to school on any day, but when they know that their children will also be fed they will go to great lengths to see to it that they attend. So, we start with 1700, but expect to have more by the end of the year.
This has been a 3-4 year project of the partnership. We began with communities who had good US partners providing lunch for their children at a cost of over 50 cents a meal. From that one school, we added another the next year and another the following year. The costs could fluctuate as high as 75 cents a meal as we were dependent on the local price of rice and beans. We were at 3 communities out of ten when the gift of this food came to us. Now, for the first year we begin with all 10 schools providing lunch. As any parent can imagine it was always hard to feed some children and not others.
The container of food from Stop Hunger Now comes to us free and we only have to cover the costs involved in shipping. For the first container that was just under $10,000. When we added the cost of transportation, cooking, plates and forks (we use metal so they can be washed and reused) and labor involved we found that we could feed 2-3 children for our old costs. Of course, we have to hold up our end of the bargain and see to it that children are feed and the food is well cared for.
We have begun a campaign to raise the funds we need for our next container. Please be on the look out for how you can help. One small Starbuck’s latte will feed 16 children lunch for the day. A movie ticket would feed 32 children lunch, and meal by meal we will get these children fed. No gift is too small
To contribute online you need only go to our Education button on this website and any funds contributed will go to our school lunch program. If you would like to have a fundraiser at your church or community organization contact us for information and support materials.
Let’s feed these children so they can learn!