Improving childhood nutrition

Through the “de grão em grão" program in Brazil


Learn about “de grão em grão”  – Educating students and growing vegetables to supplement school meals in Cargill’s Brazilian communities.


May 2012 – Through “de grão em grão” – or the Grain to Grain program – Cargill has funded the installation of vegetable gardens at nearly 100 elementary schools in seven cities in Brazil. The gardens have been established to teach students about the concepts of homestead farming and food safety. To date, the program has reached 390,000 children in grades one through five and produced more than 750 tons of food.

Begun in 2004, the “de grão em grão” program was developed in response to Fomé Zero – or Zero Hunger – an anti-hunger initiative introduced by the Brazilian government. At that time, an estimated 44 million Brazilians were impacted by hunger, particularly those in the country’s northeast region. “De grão em grão” was created to provide students with nutrition education to improve their understanding of healthy food and allow them to share those concepts with their families.

While “de grão em grão” was developed to provide students with a hands-on experience that is complemented by classroom lessons, it also produces nutritious ingredients that are used in school lunches. Since many children in Brazil have their most important meal at school, the program also provides school cooks with training and literature on food safety.

Educating students in the garden and the classroom
Growing and preparing food.
“de grão em grão”  – educating students and growing vegetables to supplement school meals in Cargill’s Brazilian communities.

In the vegetable gardens, students learn to grow and harvest nutritious food at school. To support the gardens, Cargill provides funding to plant and maintain the vegetables, including the purchase of soil, seeds and tools.

Literature and classroom activities supplement the gardening activities. A book series was written for “de grão em grão” to teach children about homestead farming and food safety. Nearly 40,000 students, 1,800 teacher and 400 school cooks have benefited and received these books.

In addition, Cargill employee volunteers provide pamphlets with information on the program to parents, which include details on topics like growing a vegetable garden at home.

Coming together to maintain the gardens 

At each school, a head gardener is selected to tend the vegetables. These gardeners water, harvest and deliver the produce to the school cafeterias, where it is used in children's lunches. They also teach community volunteers about planting, irrigating and harvesting vegetables.

Cargill employees also support community volunteers by offering expertise during garden planning, fulfilling sanitation needs, delivering water supplies and serving as liaisons between the company and volunteers.

Cargill Brazil and community engagement

Cargill Brazil has been involved in community engagement efforts in Brazil since 1973. Initially, efforts focused on fostering interest in agriculture and agricultural activities by providing technical books to libraries, schools, researchers, public agencies and other institutions. Programs later expanded to include development of hands-on curriculum for elementary students.