By Anne-Sophie Gerald
In Haiti, national production accounts for about 50% of food needs, with the difference covered by imports. WFP aims to set up sustainable mechanisms for the integration of locally produced, seasonally available food into school meal menus. A new WFP Home-Grown School Meals pilot project funded by the government of Brazil was launched in the department of Nippes in October 2015. The municipality of Petite Riviere de Nippes was chosen for its agricultural potential and variety of locally produced products, which allow for the project to buy directly from small farmers. The ultimate goal, more autonomy in Haiti, begins very simply, by investing in local production through local consumption.
Every Monday local farmers bring their produce to a centralized warehouse early in the morning, where it is assembled into weekly ration kits for each of the 24 schools participating in the project.
Each product is weighed according to the ration of 30 grams per child per day of each vegetable and 150 grams of root crops depending of the seasonal menu.
The kits are labeled by product and by school, and loaded onto a truck for delivery on the same day to the school, in order to keep the products’ freshness.
A pickup truck is tasked with delivering the prepared kits to the schools in the areas difficult to access, while a larger vehicle departs on his route to more easily accessed areas.
Fresh produce is stored at the school, until the cooks are ready to begin preparation of the meal. Schools also receive monthly a ration of dry cereals and pulses, also locally produced and seasonally available.
Once at the school, parent volunteers begin the laborious process of washing, peeling, chopping and cooking the vegetables into touffé de legumes, a traditional Haitian stew for the children to consume.
While the vegetables are on the stove cooking, the mothers prepare a second pot with petit mil, a local grain, and black beans to accompany the touffé de legumes, incorporating locally purchased dry goods to the nutritious meal.
Spices such as tomato paste, garlic, salt, dried fish, cloves and oil are added to the dish for flavor, contributed by parents through the management committees responsible for overseeing the canteen in each school.
Respecting the proposed menu that aims at providing 30 - 40% of the daily calorie intake recommended for school-age children, the steaming plates are prepared and ready to be served to the students.
Children are able to enjoy the touffé de legumes, petit mil and black beans, receiving a warm, nutritious meal made from locally produced fresh products.
This pilot project is financed by the Brazilian government, and in coordination with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture, enables WFP to bring local products to the table for children in the school meal programme. WFP’s local implementing partners are the Reseau des Producteurs Agricoles de Nippes (ROPANIP) and the Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND).