The people of Kunché, Mexico, are dependent on agriculture for survival. Unfortunately, in recent years the corn harvest has been insufficient to support them. Even with efforts by the women to raise money by weaving hammocks, there is often not enough money to feed their children.
Education is very important for poverty-level children. Yet, it is routine for Kunché students to leave for school without any breakfast or to drink only a “coffee” from ground burnt tortillas, water and sugar to get them through the day. The evening meal is also very meager.
Yucatán was once the center of the ancient Mayan civilization, and is still home to many of these indigenous people. The inland settlement of Kunché has 600 Mayan residents. Moved by the plight of these proud people with a storied past, TPRF recently granted $24,500 to provide a nutritious midday meal to 200 school children for a full school year. In 2008, TPRF provided a grant to feed a balanced breakfast to the school children of another town.
The food services are administered by the nonprofit organization Compartimos Bienestar y Salud Para Los Niños Mayas. This group is dedicated to helping Mayan families who live in extreme poverty in the Yucatán. The organization has been working in Kunché since 2006.
A healthy variety of ingredients is provided for the meals, which has been a new experience for the mothers who are helping to prepare the food. The program includes training for the mothers on how to prepare their children’s meals, encouraging use of a variety of foods.
Here are comments from students, teachers, and parents benefitting from the program:
• “I give thanks for the food you give us. What I like most is the soy meat. I also want to thank the cooks because the food is very good.” Eleven-year-old student
• “I’m very pleased to see that now the children don’t complain of headaches or that they are unable to study. Before, all they wanted to do was to go home to eat something, even though there would only be tortillas and some beans. Now, they are able to finish their classes. They go home content, with energy to study and play.” School Principal
• “I really like it when it is my turn to cook. I have two sons in school and one daughter in Kindergarten. In our house, there is not much food to offer them. Now they eat at school. My children are very content. They are not hungry now. I also get my hunger satisfied.” Mother who helps to serve the food
• “I like everything that they give me to eat. Thanks for the food. I hope and ask that they do not stop giving it to us.” Ten-year-old student
• “We are really happy to participate in the hot food menus. Now our children eat well. Whenever we have sufficient money, we can make the same food at home for the entire family.” Mother who helps to serve the food
• Photograph Courtesy of Maria Jose Medina