EL SALVADOR: Salesian Food Program Provides Meals to 150 Children Thanks to Donation from Feed My Starving Children
(MissionNewsire) Youth in programs with the Laura Vicuna Pro Education Foundation in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, have access to better nutrition thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization committed to, “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” A recent shipment of fortified rice-meals from Feed My Starving Children was donated to Laura Vicuna Pro Education Foundation for children in the local villages and involved in the Salesian church parish.
Many of the children who received the food donation have parents who are farmers, laborers, and traveling salespeople. These individuals make a very meager living and are unable to have enough food to feed their families. Most live in areas affected by the presence of drug sales, prostitution, and gangs. In the village of Tecotepe all are poor farmers and their food is a corn base and beans but food is only available when they have good harvests. These farmers’ crops are affected by climate change and water shortages.
The children attend the local Salesian school operated by the Salesian Sisters of Mary Help of Christians. Some of the children in the school are raised by single mothers who earn their living in the municipal market of San Miguelito while others are street vendors. Normally the food that these children receive at home is a tortilla with beans. Children are only fed once a day, if their parents do not sell the only they food they have in the local market. If they do, children are unable to eat that day.
The donated rice-meals are provided to students in school to ensure they receive proper nutrition and a balanced diet in order for them to focus on their studies as well as extracurricular activities such as art and sports. Salesian missionaries began the school feeding program to meet the needs of the many area families with limited resources to feed their children.
“Many of those participating in Salesian programs in El Salvador are malnourished,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Meals children receive at Salesian schools may be their only meals. This food not only encourages them to attend school, it allows them to focus on getting the education they need without worrying about where their next meal will come from. Children cannot learn on an empty stomach.”
The ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children has resulted in 40-foot containers of fortified rice-meals being shipped to Salesian sites around the globe. Feed My Starving Children provides the food and Salesian Missions takes care of the cost and logistics of shipping each container from Feed My Starving Children warehouses to the destination country. Salesian Missions also works to help identify where the greatest needs are at any given time. The partnership began in early 2006 when the first 40-foot container was donated to and shipped by Salesian Missions for programs in Sri Lanka. Through the years, as Salesian Missions has determined beneficiaries in need of Feed My Starving Children food, almost 100 containers of more than 27 million meals have been donated, shipped and received by those in need in more than 25 countries.
“Salesian missionaries are an integral part of the existing infrastructure in many countries and Salesian Missions plays an important role in making sure aid from the United States reaches its destination country and gets into the hands of those who need it most,” adds. Fr Hyde. “Youth who access Salesian programs in El Salvador are given an educational foundation, technical skill training and life and social skills to help them excel in the workforce. They are then able to break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities.”
Close to 35 percent of El Salvador’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Youth in El Salvador are confronted not only with poverty, but with instability, high levels of violence and inadequate access to educational opportunities. Despite ranking high for economic indicators, the need for practical education in the country is more important than ever with 12 percent of youth ages 15-24 unemployed and 41 percent underemployed.
(PHOTOS: Salesian Missions)
World Bank – El Salvador