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For lunch, rice is usually accompanied by a side of vegetables and either beef, chicken, pork or goat. (Jesuit Refugee Service USA)

Washington DC, 17 October 2011 — Jesuit Refugee Service USA is funding an early childhood development programme in the community of Fond Parisien, Haiti, and pre-school nutrition is an important component of the programme. (Read an earlier story here.)

Currently the programme welcomes 195 children, aged from three to five. While the nutritional menu offered to the children is basic, it meets World Food Programme caloric guidelines for pre-school nutrition programmes. 

A breakfast meal is offered around 8:00 am and includes sweetened porridge and a biscuit. The distribution is quite simple. A large thermos containing six gallons of porridge prepared at an off-site kitchen is brought in to the school, and trays with servings for 20 children are prepared.

Five parents support this process, and it takes about 20 minutes to be completed. As soon a tray with 20 servings is put together one of the parents takes the tray inside each of the classrooms, and the process continues until all the children have had breakfast. Children are provided with hand disinfectant gel before they are given their breakfast meals. 

For lunch, a more hearty meal is provided. Usually there is rice, a very common dish in mid-day meals in Haiti. The rice is usually accompanied by a side of vegetables acquired locally, and there is also a small portion of protein included in the meals. This is can be beef, pork, goat or chicken. Drinking water is provided throughout the day as needed.

The oversight of the procurement of food staples fall in the hands of the school director. It takes about three hours to prepare all the food for the day. With a projected preparation of 70,000 meals over the course of 10 months, the total cost for meal including labour, cooking facilities and food ingredients is approximately 35 cents per meal.