Simply put, food is vital for survival. It is a human right.
Food provides us with nourishment to ensure that our bodies have the nutrients and minerals needed to live. Besides providing nourishment, food has even greater reaching effects from poverty reduction, educational success, and increased income.
However, with increasing worldwide hunger and poverty, the lack of adequate food exacerbates already dire situations for children and families. Nearly 1 in 3 people around the world did not have access to adequate food last year, and that number is only rising.
Having access to food can change the future for children.
Children and families around the world in CFTC-supported communities experience firsthand how food can change the future for children.
There are many aspects of food besides actual meals that provide long-term sustainable food security, like agriculture, nutrition education, and gardens that can make the world of difference for a family. Learn how these various aspects of food and nutrition are changing futures for children worldwide.
SCHOOL MEALS CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
Because of her school’s nutrition program, 13-year-old Rahama in Ghana never worries about not having enough food. Her daily, nutritious meals of rice and stew or beans and maize help improve her concentration and fuel her education.
School meals also benefit her entire family and Rahama and her siblings eat well at home too. Her parents only have to provide Rahama and her siblings with two meals a day, saving the family money and allowing her parents to pay for other household and school expenses. Because her mother, Mariama, received CFTC-supported agricultural training, her extensive harvest supports the family financially, and provides the family with a wide variety of healthy foods. Because of school meals Rahama and her siblings will not only have better nutrition, they will stay in school longer and thrive.
FOOD BOXES CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
When the COVID-10 pandemic hit, it brought immediate attention to food insecurity in communities. Many families worldwide experienced job loss, reduced incomes, and increased household expenses.
For Dilan and his family in Bolivia, the pandemic brought great challenges - his mother, Elsa, is a chef in a local restaurant which was forced to close, putting financial strain on the family.
Thanks to CFTC donor support, they were provided with urgent family food boxes with plenty of non-perishable staples to help supplement the family’s diet. This ensured that parents didn’t need to worry about spending their income on additional food and could focus on paying their other bills.
SCHOOL GARDENS CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
With schools being closed for the better part of this year, students who relied on daily school meals had meals supplemented with produce from their community garden to help make sure they have enough healthy food to eat.
Kiana, a university student from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation in New Brunswick recognized the importance of community gardens as an affordable food option, and crucial for Indigenous food sovereignty. Saddened by the school closures, she and another volunteer took on the task of tending to the garden over the summer to distribute plants to the students at home.
"Due to COVID-19 restrictions, youth are not able to take part in helping plant and other garden work in the community garden. Instead, I'm doing it on behalf of them so when it's time to harvest, I will bring them mature plants for them to care for at home,” Kiana told us on the importance of the garden during the pandemic.
Many Indigenous communities like Kiana's rely on gardens to provide fresh food while helping to supplement the meals children would have received at school. Gardens also help further Indigenous sovereignty since youth learn how to grow their own food while connecting to the land
AGRICULTURE CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
The pandemic created additional food challenges for families from reduced household income because of job loss, to rising food costs. Agricultural ventures greatly helped families not only boost their finances with a sustainable source of income, but also provided children with nutritious and healthy food right in their own homes.
Shurtu in Ethiopia has been farming for over 17 years, growing a wide array of produce like maize, teff, wheat, onions, tomatoes and cabbage. She received CFTC-supported training on the benefits of modern irrigation through water pumps and usage of water. Irrigation has greatly benefitted her family farm, doubling her harvest year after year.
When the pandemic hit, it affected many aspects of her and her children’s lives, except food production. They never faced a shortage of meals because of all of Shurtu’s hard work on their family farm.
“The only thing that changed for us about food is when we eat. Because school is closed, I eat my breakfast a little bit later in the morning. But we still have food,” Deribe, Shurtu’s 10-year-old daughter explained.
Because of family farms, children like Deribe didn’t need to worry about their next meal during difficult times.
NUTRITION EDUCATION CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
Parents want to ensure that their children succeed and have crucial access to food and education. However, sometimes there’s a gap that exists for parents in knowing exactly what to feed children, specifically for a balanced diet. Many diets are lacking fresh fruits and vegetables and are higher in less nutritious food.
In Bolivia, mother of three Roberta received CFTC-supported nutrition education classes. In these classes, she learned how to balance a meal between protein, fresh produce, and grains to ensure that her children are receiving the important nutrients that they need to grow. As well, parents learned how to prepare quick, easy, and healthy recipes that are full of fresh vegetables.
“We never studied these things before. I was interested in knowing if my children were being fed well and healthy enough, so I was excited to attend these workshops,” Roberta explained.
Since the nutrition classes, Roberta’s seen the difference in her children’s eating habits, especially with her nine-year-old daughter Mary. “My kids have a better performance in school, they don’t get as sick. They used to refuse to eat vegetables, but now they eat them all.”
When children see healthy eating habits built into mealtimes at home, eating fresh fruits and vegetables is more normalized which is crucial for a child’s growth and development.
LIVESTOCK CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
Goats, pigs, chickens and sheep can make a world of difference for a family. From being a source of milk and protein to income generation, a single animal can help lift a family from poverty.
When seven-year-old Brenda’s mom received a goat from CFTC-supported programs, she received livestock training, supplies and feed for her goat. Helping to raise goats has completely transformed Brenda’s family, especially in tougher times during the pandemic.
“Raising animals like my goats and pigs has helped me meet the needs of my children, from their nutrition to their school fees. The income I get from animals helps me support all my children,” Scovia, Brenda’s mother, told us.
When their family faced hardships from the pandemic, selling a goat helped to provide enough money for Scovia to purchase food to support her family for the next while.
“Mummy bought me such nice clothes and good food after selling a goat. I love helping mummy feed and bathe our goats,” Brenda told us. Owning livestock means families, like Brenda’s, have a reliable and stable source of income and food.
TRADITIONAL FOOD CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
Twelve-year-old Luke loves spending time on the land surrounding his home in Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation (Neyaashiinigmiing). He enjoys hunting, trapping, and doing carpentry projects with his father. He loves learning how to forage for food and medicine in the woods. But his favourite hobby is fishing.
“You get to sit there, watch the rods, and when you do get to catch that, you get excited. It’s fun to learn the process of deboning the fish. My favourite is still catching it.”
Knowledge sharing is key to intergenerational learning - not just from Elders to children, but often the other way around. For example, Luke is great at fishing and filleting, and teaches other adults how to do it. He also teaches his peers how to set up, bait and hide traps.
“It is important for the entire community to have these skills so that we can all harvest the same food,” he says. “And have those same opportunities.”
In turn, Luke learns a lot from his dad about trapping, tanning and skinning. When he joins in community land-based activities, he learns even more from everyone else, like Gordie, their community bushman, who has shown him how to skin a beaver.
Traditional foods, hunting and gathering promote Indigenous food security and sovereignty for communities across Canada. These land-based education techniques are crucial for children to experience their culture and learn how to live off the land.
GARDENS CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN
Both home and community gardens have been critical in supporting families, especially through the pandemic. These gardens are centres of the community, involving many community members who come together to cultivate. Gardens are essential for providing children and families with fresh, affordable and healthy produce, and can serve as a source of income for families to sell extra crops in local markets.
When the pandemic brought most livelihoods to a standstill, many families around the world relied on home and community gardens to supplement fresh food and boost income.
Cimar, 12, Eulalia, 11, and Joel, 8, love to help their parents in their home garden in Bolivia. They produce lettuce, chilis, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage and celery in their garden, which adds a wide variety of nutrition to the children’s diets. Their mother Ana sells extra produce in the local market, which supplements the family’s income, which is especially helpful during tough times.
As you can see from their faces, these siblings adore working in the garden with their mom and now love to eat their vegetables - all because of the garden.
HOW CAN WE CHANGE THE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN?
Food is so much more than just something to eat. A secure supply of nutritious food can bring a world of change for children, from nourishing their bodies and minds, to supporting family incomes, to promoting food sovereignty in communities.
Both short and long-term solutions to support food security are critical to ensure that children and families can thrive.
The communities we support are facing food challenges, but with your support, we are working together to help tackle these challenges.
By supporting Canadian Feed the Children, you can help change the future for children with food. Your gifts go toward food initiatives in Canada and around the world.