Eating Well to Live Better
The nutrition program at NPH Guatemala keeps our kids fit and healthy.
Reported by Vanessa French
Communication Officer, NPH Guatemala
October 17, 2016
Most of the children come to NPH Guatemala suffering from malnutrition; they may not have had enough food to eat – let alone healthy food. We are focused on ensuring the children are not only well-fed, but that they are receiving well-balanced and nutritionally sound meals.
Our doctor, Lauren Gomez, is a pediatrician and also a qualified nutritionist. She works with the staff in the kitchen, and together they create healthy menus for the children. “Over the last two years we’ve created several different menus including a menu for the general population of children who eat in the comedor (cafeteria), children living in the babies house, our special needs children, and also the older kids living at our high school,” she says. “Depending on their age and the state of their health, the children have different requirements. The most important thing is to have a balanced diet with protein, carbs, fruits, vegetables, and fats.” We also have children with chronic illnesses. They have individual plans worked out for them, and their caregivers have been educated on their special requirements.
Our hardworking cooks serve around 820 meals to children, employees, and volunteers during the week. Dr. Lauren has presented training courses on nutrition and food hygiene to all the kitchen staff. Breakfast is often cereal with fruit and sometimes yogurt, or beans and an egg. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day with a variety of dishes like chicken and vegetables in salsa served with rice. Or there is sometimes a creamy pasta salad, or a meat replacement served with vegetables and tortillas. To boost the children’s fruit and vegetable intake they are often made into a juice to drink along with their meals. All of the 280 children here get three meals a day and a healthy snack during a break at school. Our youngest children (under 10 years old) have a slightly different menu due to the importance of a nutrition-rich food during a child’s first years. They get extra protein, fruit and vegetables.
Luckily NPH Guatemala has some very hardworking people who have created relationships with local farmers. When they have excess products that are not up to export grade, they donate it to our home. “One of our biggest challenges is getting enough protein and high quality fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Lauren. This is one of the areas for which we continue to strive to find solutions.
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Photo above: A typical breakfast includes blackberries, cereal, a bun and yogurt. Photos below: Dr. Lauren Gomez, Pediatrician and Nutritionist, plans healthy menus; Preparing lots of vegetables to feed lots of kids; A child enjoys some warm milk after dinner.