‘The children leave school at one thirty. Therefore, they walk to their houses, without having lunch, and they do not arrive until three or four in the afternoon. That was our main motivation to create the vegetables garden, besides our worry regarding malnutrition among the students’, says Zoila Zanango, headmaster of the Ángela María Iglesias school, located in Gualleturo, Cañar province where the Food Governability in Andes region project is been implemented.
The training provided by the project, funded by the European Union and implemented by Plan International, was for students, teachers, parents, so they work alongside to help the community to seed food and medicinal plants in the garden built inside the schools. In addition, courses on healthy feeding was provide to the mothers and fathers so they can cook more nutritional meals in their homes.
Zoila says that at the beginning the parents were not enthusiastic about the vegetables gardens. ‘If there is no product and it’s just in words, they believe that is a lie but because of the workshops and meeting related to the project with the community, this process has been stronger’. At the same time, the idea of having seedbeds that will grow seeds so they can be share with the community, without exceptions, motivated to have a bigger participation.
The students from fifth to ten grade helped in the process of making the gardens and seedbeds and the students from eight to ten grade are the ones in charge of the garden with guidance from their teachers. The motivation, interest that this project had in the students is because this system can be use at home, and this call their attentions while they learn to do it, which is why the learning process is so constructive and meaningful.
When the first garden was ready, the parents send to the school some potatoes, rice, mellocos, ocas and other products that were not produce, in order to cook meals for the students with the vegetables in the garden. The mothers, who already had taken the healthy meals workshops, were in charge of cooking so students could have lunch before leaving school.
‘The project might finish officially, but through the children and parents work, we will continue since this initiative has benefits for everybody’, says Zoila.