Hunger in Haiti: “I like school, and I like eating”

In partnership with the World Food Program, World Vision provides daily hot meals to more than 230,000 children as an important part of its continuing response to the 2010 earthquake.

By Meg Sattler, World Vision Haiti.
Published May 20, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

“I love eating rice, so I love the food at school,” says 7-year-old Natasha, between mouthfuls of lunch.

She’s sitting at a table in her school’s makeshift dining area, eating a meal of rice, beans, and tuna at a school feeding program in Haiti.

School feeding program nourishes children

World Vision, in partnership with the World Food Program, provides daily hot meals to more than 230,000 children as an important part of its continuing response to the 2010 earthquake.

“After the earthquake, food needs increased,” says World Vision’s Victor Mahlalela, who coordinates the school feeding project in 214 schools in one district alone. “It wasn’t that there was no food, but there has been a diversion of resources.”

Instead of buying nutritious food for their families, “people are now having to use their money for other things — to rebuild, to get their lives back on track,” he continues.

World Vision and the World Food Program provide a meal of rice and beans as part of the school feeding program in Haiti. (Photo: Meg Sattler/World Vision)

Food prepared by local moms

Mothers in the community prepare and serve the meals of rice and beans to the children, feeding nearly 700 students on a typical school day. The mothers — who receive monthly take-home rations for their efforts — often bring meat and vegetables from their own homes to add to the rice.

“I find this program very rewarding. I have spoken to many children at schools who’ve said that they don’t have any food at home. So school feeding is very beneficial, particularly for the most vulnerable households,” Victor says.

Malnutrition a major concern in Haiti

According to UNICEF, malnutrition is the most common cause of death among children under 5.

Natasha scrapes grains of rice from the bottom of her container. “This is better than the food I get at home,” she says. “I have six brothers and sisters, and sometimes there isn’t enough food for us.”

The children sitting around the table eating their rice and beans today may not fully understand the nutritional benefits of regular, healthy meals, but they certainly aren’t complaining.

Seven-year-old Faradhia sums up the benefits of the program, in her own way: “I like school, and I like eating! Thank you; I am very happy.”

Four ways you can help

Pray for children and families in Haiti who are still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2010. Pray especially that vulnerable children would have access to essentials like nutritious food.

Join HungerFree, World Vision’s global movement to press world leaders to address global hunger and child malnutrition at the G8 Summit.

Make a one-time gift to help provide food and care for Haiti. Your donation will help deliver interventions like nutritious food, agricultural support, healthcare, and more to children who are still in need more than two years after the devastating earthquake.

Sponsor a child in Haiti. Your love and support for a boy or girl in need will help provide ongoing care through basics like nutritious food, clean water, healthcare, education, safe shelter, and more.