“[The] USDA approved Take-Home Rations for program beneficiaries during school closures,” said Shane Danielson, senior director of the International Food Assistance Division with the USDA. “In addition, USDA has worked with implementers to adapt program activities as best-fit during this global pandemic.”
Volunteers assembled the individual food rations from the McGovern-Dole Program, along with fresh produce from another local project.
CRS established protocols for the parents to come safely to the school to pick up the food, which included hand sanitizing stations, mandatory mask wearing, and social distancing. Less than one month into the pandemic, they were ready to distribute food. Using the megaphone in the center of each town, community members called others to come to the school to pick up food.
“It showed us how people came together as a community to support their children,” Urizar said.
During the 2020 school year, 47,515 boys and girls received meals through take-home rations.
Though the initial McGovern-Dole Program funding expired in 2020, CRS in Guatemala was selected for a follow-up award, which extends the program through 2025.
“Guatemala demonstrates significant needs in the areas of education, nutrition, and health; meets the criteria to be a recipient country of McGovern-Dole funding; and has been designated a priority country for funding,” Danielson said.
According to CRS, the school feeding program has been shown to increase school enrollment retention and engagement in daily lessons, and decrease illness.
“CRS has been able to make many improvements in the areas of food security, child health and nutrition and education,” Danielson said. “[The] USDA considers CRS a strong implementing organization and it is pleased to continue this relationship and build on its success.”
For families like Maria Quiró’s, the partnership results in less economic stress on the family situation, and more opportunities for the children to continue their education.
“If my children do not eat properly, they have a headache when they are doing their work,” Quiró said. “I am very grateful for the food for my children.”
(Story continues below)
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