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Peace Corps Volunteer Teaches Healthy Eating Habits to Children and Mothers

Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Young is spearheading a school nutrition project in Guatemala to address malnutrition in her community by educating preschool students and their parents on long-term healthy eating habits.

Young was inspired to pursue the project as a follow-up to a basic health checkup she coordinated for children at her local preschool after an examination at a nearby hospital found that of the children examined, 54 percent were malnourished.

Working with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and the local government, Young has planted vegetable gardens on the school’s grounds and trained the children’s mothers in gardening, harvesting crops, nutrition and cooking. She has also helped the mothers plant home gardens for their families.

Young and the mothers spent several weeks breaking the ground with picks and hoes, mixing the soil with organic fertilizer, and finally planting vegetable and flower seeds. Within a month, the school and family gardens were yielding radishes, chard, carrots and beets.

Young and two fellow Volunteers then held a series of trainings for mothers on basic nutrition and children’s dietary needs. The trainings included cooking classes to demonstrate a variety of ways the crops could be used in preparing everyday snacks and meals.

Young taught the mothers how to make healthy snacks such as omelets with carrots, chard and potatoes, soy banana pancakes and fruit salads. She also worked with teachers at the school and parents to create a school snack menu featuring foods rich in crucial nutrients missing from the students’ diets, like vitamin A, calcium, protein and iron.

The project has been a great success in Young’s community, accomplishing all of its goals for the year due in large part to the strong commitment of parents and teachers. Young plans to continue working with the preschool staff and local mothers to improve the program throughout the next school year, in the hope that it will grow and benefit many area schools and hundreds of local families.

As part of the Feed the Future initiative, Peace Corps has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development to field more than 1,200 Volunteers in countries overseas to help people make sustainable changes in how they cultivatetheir food, address water shortages and feed their families. Learn more.

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