A press conference was held at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Belize City this morning. Mexico’s Ambassador to Belize, Carlos Quesnel Melendez; Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education Carol Babb; and representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization all dialogued with Mexican Senator and coordinator for the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa.
Jose Sanchez: Senator Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa has decades of parliamentary experience in Mexico and she has made it a mission in life to end hunger and malnutrition in the region. Senator Calderon Hinojosa has travelled the region seeking legislative coalition and practical programs to end hunger.
Senator Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa: “We exist since 2009 in American Latina in the Caribbean doing loads about good nutrition to fight against hunger in Belize; we celebrate that since two years ago. FAO and Amexcid; you know that Amexcid is an agency from Mexico who supports this political strategy. Amexcid and FAO works with the Belize Government to improve a strategy to help children to have a better nutrition in a model of nutrition in the school. The school is the only way that you can find children together and you can help them to have a better nutrition. Here in Belize there are 19 % of children without good nutrition. We can help in the Family agriculture law; the law in artisanal fishing.”
Translator: “Small scale fishing.”
Senator Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa: “Small scale fishing; we can share about the right of the consumer to know what he is eating. We can share how to comprobe that the budget is being well applied with some measures that make sure that the kids are having healthy meals.”
Jose Sanchez: .Pilot programs in southern Belize are ready for expansion. CEO for the Ministry of Education, Carol Babb has visited another regional program but believes the 2 year pilot in Belize has been successful.
Carol Babb, CEO, EDUCATION: We have four model schools in the Toledo district and with Amexcid and the FAO; they are offering healthy meals and are developing gardens and what is the benefit of all of this? Why do we need to join or to start this parliamentary approach to end malnutrition and hunger? It’s important that we join this parliamentary group because it will ensure that our children in schools are eating healthy. When children eat healthy they participate better in the classroom. They are more active, there attention span is longer. We also find out that they have less illnesses. The absences reduces; just recently through FAO we were fortunate to have undergone an Education tour where we visited schools in Guatemala and in these school we ensure that every child gets a healthy meal and there is a school garden that supports the meals that children eat and what I like also about the school garden is that the school garden is integrated with classroom lessons. The teachers use the school garden for Math, for English, for science at all levels so I think the model that we have in Toledo is an extremely good one and for this september we are going to expand that model to two more schools in each four six districts.
San Antonio, Santa Cruz, Santa Elena and Pueblo Viejo schools are only the beginning of the project.
Carol Babb, CEO, EDUCATION: They have beautiful dining rooms and the gardens are beautiful and the children are participating in supporting the garden and making sure that it works and what I also like about it; the families help to take care of garden so it’s an entire community supporting children eating healthy and school gardens. The lessons that we learned is that; one of the most important lessons that we have learned is that we have 100% attendance in those schools. Children come to school everyday, they don’t complain of stomach pains, illnesses, diarrhea or anything like that so when we can ensure that children are eating healthily and getting good and safe meals that will also help with attendance and less sicknesses.
Before the expansion of the family garden and feeding programs, Senator Calderon Hinojosa will meet with parliamentarians including Ministers of Education, Health and Agriculture during her visit to Belize. Jose Sanchez Love News.