COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (October 12, 2011) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Food For The Poor 4,690 metric tons of food for children in Nicaragua over the next three years. The goal is to improve the education, nutrition, and health conditions of school-aged children in underserved communities in Nicaragua. During a three year period, approximately 275 containers of food will be distributed in the country’s most impoverished communities.
The World Food Program identifies Nicaragua as the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind only Haiti in terms of per capita income and the market value of all goods and services produced in the country. Low literacy rates, high dropout numbers, and poor academic performance are direct measurable consequences of widespread food insecurity, where low-income households often rely on children to increase the family’s income and in some cases, assist with subsistence farming.
“For some of the students who live in extreme poverty, this USDA program may give them the opportunity to taste milk for the first time,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “Malnutrition denies many children the opportunity to live life to their fullest potential. More than half of these families in rural areas live on less than $2 a day.”
Approximately 260 schools will participate in the USDA Food For Education program in Nicaragua. Plans call for 70,000 preschool to primary school-age children in northern and central Nicaragua to benefit from this feeding program. From 2011 to 2014, more than 37 million meals will be provided to students. The children will receive nutritional meals prepared from nonfat dried milk, red kidney beans, rice, textured soy protein, and vegetable oil.
The majority of beneficiaries are located in Estelí, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia and Madriz. According to recent regional poverty assessments, nearly one-third of the population lives in extreme poverty. Chronic malnutrition and food deficits affect 50 percent of school-aged children and literacy levels fall below national averages – only three out of every 10 will finish high school.
Students will receive a morning snack and a hot meal for lunch each day. In addition, this program will fund the installation of 120 latrines, repairs to school kitchens, establish school gardens, and provide multi-disciplinary training for parents and teachers.
Food For The Poor has assisted Nicaragua since 1997. The American Nicaraguan Foundation has been a partner of Food For The Poor for 14 years, and during 2010 Food For The Poor shipped 343 containers of aid valued at more than $114.5 million to the country.
Food For The Poor was previously awarded a USDA Food For Education program in 2005 to benefit 65,000 school children in Nicaragua. Over the years, Food For The Poor has received additional funding from the USDA to support programs in Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad.
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.