In the small rural communities in the San Miguel municipality there are no daycare centers. This is primarily because the mothers do not have “outside” employment: they stay at home to care for their children, although some do participate in cottage industry activities. After around eight months of age, the children are fed essentially the same diet as the rest of the family.
For 35 years, Feed the Hungry San Miguel has provided a much-needed service for many of the poorest rural communities in San Miguel de Allende. Over that time, we have observed that many of the children enter school already undernourished—and to some extent underdeveloped—because of impoverished conditions in the home and nutritional deficiencies related to a lack of vitamins and minerals. This is why Feed the Hungry San Miguel launched a new initiative to provide sustenance for children who have been weaned but are not yet in school; typically, eight months old to four or five years old. We are committed to helping this very vulnerable population during this very important growth and development period, because poor nutrition in a child’s early years will manifest itself in a myriad of health and cognitive disorders.
In 2019 the program was inaugurated in the most disadvantaged community that we serve, Plan Juarez. It is an indigenous Chichimeca village 90 minutes driving time from our warehouse. On the first day, 9 mothers and their 16 children, ages 1 to 4, walked a mile or more to the school, where both mothers and children enthusiastically enjoyed a hot, healthy meal. It is so fulfilling knowing that we are fueling the children’s bodies and brains during these critical formative years.
As Feed the Hungry can only provide meals on school days, the mothers were also asked to attend nutrition-based cooking classes so that the program is sustainable—they can follow our guidelines and menus in the home as well.
The initiative has been enthusiastically accepted. The Pre-Kinder Nutrition Program is currently operating in three communities, and we expect to add four more in 2020.