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Decade of Impact: Supporting healthier futures for children in Honduras

October 02, 2018

The students at Max Martinez Zambrano Basic Education Center in Siguatepeque, Honduras usually arrive to school with empty stomachs.

The school’s principal, Otilia Hortensia Padilla, sees her job not just as the overseer of their education, but also their well-being. And in order to help the students learn and succeed in the classroom, she knows they need the fuel of a nutritious diet to focus.

Five years ago, the school joined the Nourishing the Future program, a partnership between CARE and Cargill that provides nutrition education and resources to improve the lives of students and their families.

Otilia’s school now has a garden that supplements school meals and a hands-on opportunity to learn about vegetables and fruits that are important to a nutritious diet. Cargill helped build the school’s kitchen and CARE provided nutrition education to the volunteers that prepare school lunch each day.

“Through this program our students have improved their nutrition, consequently their academic performance and obviously learned knowledge about the nutritional value of food, and sharing it at home,” Otilia said.

It all started in Honduras

carenutritioninfographicThe Cargill-CARE “Nourishing the Future” program started in Honduras 10 years ago, later expanding to other countries in Central America and then worldwide as part of Cargill and CARE’s Rural Development Initiative.

Worldwide, the initiative has touched 2.2 million people, helping build more resilient communities in 10 countries through improved food and nutrition security, increased farmer productivity and greater access to markets.

The global CARE-Cargill partnership has been customized to meet regional needs that improve the communities where Cargill already does business.

In Honduras, for example, the partnership worked on creating more food and nutrition-secure households through nutrition education and services related to optimal nutrition practices, healthy eating habits, food hygiene, clean water, and using schools as the platform for addressing malnutrition. Many of these schools are located near Cargill facilities, educate employee’s children and utilize Cargill volunteers inside the classrooms.

The partnership led to great success in the country: Participants had a 45 percent increase in average household dietary diversity and a 19 percent decrease in average months of food insecurity.

Maria Hinson Tobin, technical advisor for CARE’s Food and Nutrition Security Unit, said the programming offered to students, teachers and parents is being applied in their everyday lives.

“Parents and students are able to clearly articulate the pillars of nutrition, identify nutrient-dense vegetables and actually put that knowledge on their tables at home,” she said. “This is how we create a sustainable solution for lifting families out of poverty.”

Strengthening the business connection

Moving forward, Cargill aims to create a more focused connection with its businesses.
The partnership has been successful because of the support of Cargill employees that volunteer their time to the schools in need, Maria Nelly Rivas, Cargill’s Corporate Affairs director for Central America.

“When we have our employees on the ground, visible in their bright orange Cargill shirts, we’re sending a message to the communities,” she said. “We aren’t just an anonymous multinational company. We are part of your country, we are committed to being here and we want to thrive together. It is not about a tag line; it is about real commitment.”

Michelle Grogg, Cargill’s vice president for corporate responsibility and sustainable development, said Cargill is working to make this partnership even more impactful.

“Ultimately, we want to show how partnerships like these are helping Cargill achieve its purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” she said.