Friday, October 4, 2013

New Children's Nutrition Site in Fajardo

We are excited to announce the expansion the our Children's Nutrition Program! In past year we have worked extensively with an elementary school in Chaupitena, however with recent changes to the school system here in Ecuador, Chaupitena has experienced a drastic increase in students and is currently struggling with disorganized and crowded classrooms. The lead PDs working in Children's Nutrition plan on continuing their work at Chaupitena once the school has become more organized. In the mean time the program has expanded to include a new class called "Nutrition and Wellbeing" which is now taught at a nearby high school in the Fajardo neighborhood. The course will focus on promoting an interest in and improving the knowledge of personal wellbeing with an emphasis on nutrition, preventative health and healthy lifestyles. The nutrition portion of the curriculum is modeled after the Harvard Health Eating Plate guidelines. Throughout the course students will learn about topics ranging from healthy grains to diabetes prevention to reproduction health rights. The high school also has a community garden, which will provide the prefect setting for our lessons on food production and resulting environmental impacts.

On the first day the students were given a diagnostic test on basic nutrition. The results indicated a great need for this type of education as only 2 of the 43 students present could name all 6 components of a healthy plate (many included yogurt and shrimp as two of the daily requirements) and only 12 out of 43 knew that eating fruit had different nutritional value than consuming fruit juice. When asked why, one student's response was, "because orange juice is not in an orange." Another slightly comical response from the day included a student saying that the healthiest milk is "milk from a carton." Interestingly enough many students stated that they prefer to eat home over eating at a restaurant because they know how the food was prepared and exactly what they will be eating. We will address these
misconceptions as well as many others throughout the upcoming semester.

Currently MPI is only working with the students at Fajardo every other Wednesday however given the results of the diagnostic test and the attentive nature of the students we hope to increase our presence in the classroom. We are very excited to be working with this new curriculum and group of students!

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