International School Meals Day: FFTP Programs Provide Nutrition, Foster Learning
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 10, 2022) As principal of Ti Ayiti School in Haiti, Pastor Enock Joseph has a deep understanding of the significance of International School Meals Day. He has seen students with empty stomachs struggle to learn because their parents could not provide the food they needed to thrive in the classroom.
“In the past, the children used to arrive to school in the morning without having breakfast,” Pastor Joseph said. “Many complained of having cramps and headaches, making it impossible for them to learn.”
Thanks to Food For The Poor and its donors, Ti Ayiti School students now enjoy the benefit of a school feeding program that provides a free breakfast. Milk, cereal, eggs and cheese are among the breakfast items served each day. Students also receive lunch through an FFTP monthly Food Distribution Program – which provides, among other things, rice, beans and chicken – that ensures they receive two balanced meals every day they attend school. The meals help children concentrate, learn and develop, and they serve as a powerful incentive for parents to send their children to school.
International School Meals Day, celebrated this year on Thursday, March 10, raises public awareness worldwide about the importance of good nutrition for all students, regardless of their circumstances.
Food insecurity is a concern in many countries around the globe. More than 142 million people in 40 out of the 55 countries included in an analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) are predicted to have severe food insecurity – meaning they did not have enough food or were forced to reduce the amount of food they eat.
In 2021, 1 in 4 Haitians faced acute food insecurity; and from March to June 2021, 1.9 million children were estimated to be food insecure, according to IPC estimates.
“It’s difficult for children to grasp even the most basic instruction when their focus is on where their next meal will come from,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “Our School Feeding Programs, coupled with our food distribution programs, remove hunger from the equation. The children are able to learn and study, which we believe will lift them out of poverty and put them on a path to an income and a better quality of life.”
The School Feeding Program at Ti Ayiti School is among 20 such programs in Haiti that FFTP operates, providing meals for more than 4,000 students. In addition to these programs, the FFTP Haiti distribution network provides food for more than 800 schools throughout Haiti. For many impoverished children, the food they receive at school may be their only nutritious meal of the day.
Ti Ayiti School, officially known as Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours, is in Ti Ayiti, Cite Soleil, one of the most destitute neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Cite Soleil is the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere and one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere.
Opened in 1995, Ti Ayiti School was the first school established by FFTP. With 443 students and 22 employees, Ti Ayiti School consists of an auditorium, two pavilions, and 10 classrooms. It is considered an oasis in a volatile and hostile environment plagued by deep poverty and gang violence.
“All of the parents in the area want their children to attend this school,” Pastor Joseph said. “The primary school has many children precisely because the Ti Ayiti school operates even in times of trouble, when necessary, while other schools automictically close their doors, and the students lose several days and even weeks of class time.”
In addition, the feeding program and food distribution program help boost students’ family savings by reducing expenses at home, and they help create job opportunities for adults to work as cooks who prepare meals for the students.
“The feeding program for Ti Ayiti School goes far beyond two plates of food each day,” FFTP Programs Director Vanessa Kettia Laurent said. “It is a life-changing opportunity for the kids, parents, and the community of Cite Soleil, for which we are extremely grateful.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.