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Peace Corps Helps Guatemalan Families Fight Malnutrition

Published on 16 January 2014

Discover the World Of Judaica

by Office of the Spokesperson


Washington, D.C.

Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Young With Guatemalan Mothers
Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Young With Guatemalan Mothers

Peace Corps volunteer Kate Young of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is spearheading a school nutrition project to address malnutrition in her Guatemalan community.

Young, who has been working as a municipal development adviser in Guatemala since 2010, was inspired to pursue the project after coordinating a basic health examination for children at her local preschool.

“I made an appointment with the community hospital for the health nurses to weigh, measure and examine all of the students,” said Young, a graduate of Rutgers University. “Of those examined, 54 percent were malnourished.”

Working with fellow Peace Corps volunteers and the local government, Young has planted vegetable gardens on the school’s grounds and trained the children’s mothers in gardening, harvesting crops, nutrition and cooking. Young has also helped the mothers plant family gardens at their homes.

“I met with the mothers weekly to haul loads of topsoil, break ground with picks and hoes, mix the soil with organic fertilizer, and finally plant vegetable and flower seeds,” Young said. “Within a month, the school and family gardens were yielding radishes, chard, carrots and beets.”

Young and two fellow volunteers then held a series of training sessions for mothers on basic nutrition and children’s dietary needs. The training included cooking classes to demonstrate a variety of ways the crops could be used in preparing everyday snacks and meals.

“We taught the mothers how to make healthy snacks such as omelets with carrots, chard and potatoes, soy banana pancakes and fruit salads,” Young said. “I also worked with teachers at the school and parents to create a school snack menu featuring foods rich in crucial nutrients missing from the students’ diets, like vitamin A, calcium, protein and iron.”

The project has been a great success within Young’s community, and she plans to continue working with the preschool staff and local mothers to improve the program throughout the next school year.

“This project has the potential to benefit many area schools and hundreds of families in the urban and outlying areas. The commitment of the parents and teachers has been strong, and we have accomplished all of our goals for the program this year,” Young said.

There are 82 Peace Corps volunteers in Guatemala working in the areas of health, youth development and agriculture. During their service in Guatemala, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including Ixil, Kakchiquel, Mam, Q’anjob’al, Qe’qchí, Quiché, Spanish and Tzutuhil. More than 4,875 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Guatemala since the program was established in 1963.



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Posted 2014-01-16 12:46:00