Food is one of the core fundamental needs of all human beings. We place direct emphasis on addressing this most basic of needs for our children. Due to the economic difficulties facing the community we serve, we are even more aware of the significance of our commitment. One of the challenges we face is malnutrition. Many of the children in our community are suffering from the effects of malnutrition.
Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet in which nutrients are either not enough or are too much such that the diet causes health problems. It may involve calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals. Not enough nutrients is called undernutrition or undernourishment while too much is called overnutrition. Malnutrition is often used to specifically refer to undernutrition where an individual is not getting enough calories, protein, or micronutrients. If undernutrition occurs during pregnancy, or before two years of age, it may result in permanent problems with physical and mental development. Extreme undernourishment, known as starvation, may have symptoms that include: a short height, thin body, very poor energy levels, and swollen legs and abdomen. People also often get infections and are frequently cold. The symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies depend on the micronutrient that is lacking.
To address this obstacle we have committed to serving two meals per day, Monday – Friday. When children first arrive in the morning at 7am they are served a hot breakfast which typically a soy protein porridge. Think of this a type of grits. It is a mineral enriched bowl which has added proteins, soybeans, corn and other crucial vitamins that provide the nourishment that growing children need.
We also serve our children snacks around 9am and lunch at 11am. Lunch contains a base such as rice or a corn flour substitute which is indigenous to the region. It’s called nsima (In-see-mah). A vegetable or fiber side; typically beans, cabbage, or green vegetables such as turnips, spinach, kale, etc. Once a week we provide a meat such as chicken, beef, or goat.