The first five years of life are crucial for physical, mental and emotional development in childhood. During this first stage of life, food habits are created that will determine our health as adults. The Mexican people suffer from a double burden of malnutrition. Micronutrient deficiencies can be observed, as well as the existence of overweight and obesity. According to the 2018 Ensanut survey, one in each six children has low height (chronic malnutrition), and 23% have anemia. The main long-term consequences on their health are:
At Valle La Paz Foundation, we developed a nutrition program with the aim of insuring nutrition in an integrative manner for the benefit of children and families in general.
We coordinate four cafeterias in the Mesa Rica and El Manzano communities where breakfast is served to 180 students every day. In our breakfasts, we favor the consumption of complex carbohydrates, good-quality sugars as honey and “piloncillo” (brown sugar made from the sugar-cane juice), fresh vegetables and fruits in season. Menus are high in protein, lead, zinc and calcium, and provide sufficient vitamin A, vitamin C and folates.
Most of the food comes from organic or agro-ecological producers from the Valle de Bravo region, thus promoting the consumption of healthy, agrochemical-free food.
With the collaboration of the Salvador Zubirán National Nutrition Institute, the weight, height and hemoglobin of all the children in the program are assessed. Malnourished, anemic and overweight children are identified and they are given treatment and follow-up.
There are nutrition and health workshops with a focus on empowering women in decision-making so they take care of their family’s health and also on developing the children’s capacity to take care of their own health and that of their environment. To achieve this, we invite different experts in health, cooking and agro-ecology experts.
These communities have reached a food transition stage and have recently stopped planting, thus losing their self-sufficiency in corn, beans and other staple foods.
Talks are given on food sovereignty, with the aim of getting the community to plant again in order to produce basic food for their daily diet and to work together.