Meals that nourish dreams: Maria Ana’s Story
One in nine people worldwide do not have enough to eat. Many do not have enough nutritious food. As missionary disciples, we are called to respond to the urgent needs of those who face hunger and malnutrition and to address the root causes of this global crisis. Together, we can lead the way to prevent and end hunger by strengthening communities with support to families that nourishes children, spurs school attendance and builds brighter futures.
Maria Ana, 16, dreams of becoming a nurse in her community of El Pinal—a remote village in Honduras, where she lives with her parents and four younger siblings. Every morning, she walks the long dirt trail to school with her two brothers, Marco and Denis. Maria Ana’s father, Cristobal, grows corn and malanga—a root vegetable like potatoes. But the quantities that his hard labor produces are not enough for the entire family, even less for selling. And Maria Ana, aware of her family’s situation, is thankful for her education because she knows that hunger prevents students in rural Honduras from attending school.
Without enough nutritious food, children do not have the energy to focus and learn. But the people of El Pinal are helping to address this problem. Every day, parents volunteer to prepare lunch and a snack for students with vegetables donated by local families, and oil, rice and beans provided by CRS through the Food for Education program. Thanks to the meals they receive at school, students can concentrate in the classroom and have more energy to play and do chores at home. They even bring containers to take leftovers to share with their parents and siblings.
By having his children go to classes, Cristobal knows the lunches they get will help them stay healthy to pursue their dreams. And Maria Ana is doing her part too, by learning as much as she can from her teachers. “Our [science] teacher has taught us the importance of getting good nutrition to be healthy, do well in school and be able to achieve anything we want,” she shares excitedly.
In addition to the meals, CRS provides education on nutrition, including how to incorporate other food items when variety is scarcer. For instance, Maria Ana learned that, “During the dry season, we can always make some patties out of malanga, which has many good things like potassium and iron, and provides a lot of other nutrients.”
Each one of us were made in God’s image and likeness and have special value and purpose. We are called to care for each other so that all may achieve their God-given potential, especially the most vulnerable. When we help those in need access enough nutritious food, we ensure God’s children not only survive, but thrive.