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No Food, No School: The Importance of the School Food Program

Communicating from one context to another, very different context can be quite a challenge.  At times it seems impossible to convey the implications and significance of an event to others who live in a completely different world. Even day to day realities so naturally understood by those who live in them are not so naturally understood by those from another country, culture, walk of life, or upbringing.  We see so differently.

For example, what do you see when you look at this picture?

Let me tell you what I see:

  1. I see a boy receiving what is almost certainly the first meal he has had today.

  2. I see a boy receiving what very well may be the only meal he will have today.

  3. I see a boy who could probably eat two to three times as much as is on his plate.

  4. I see a student who probably wouldn’t be in school if he did not receive that meal (see paragraph below).

  5. I see a boy who is able to get an education, because the food he eats at school enables him to concentrate and helps his brain develop.

  6. I see a mother whose heavy burden is lifted just a little bit by the fact that her child received a meal at school today and she does not have to figure out how she is going to feed him.

  7. I see women (well, I see their arms anyway) who have a job cooking and serving that food, which enables them to put their own kids in school and provide food for their families.

The hunger crisis is increasing in our area.  There has been no harvest for years.  The Haitian gourde has dropped drastically and food prices keep rising.  Two weekends ago, Jinel came back from Gonaives with a huge bundle of green onions and said, “I used to pay $25 for these.  Today I paid $60.”  The other week Manis received a visit from a respected leader in a nearby community.  This man told Manis that except for Lemuel’s school, none of the other schools in our area are able to function.  The reason?  Hunger.  Families are already hungry, and the schools do not have the means to provide a meal for the students.  In Creole there is a proverb that says, “A hungry stomach has no ears.”  If the students are hungry, and there is no food to be had at school, they simply will not come.  They cannot.

In a very real sense, Lemuel’s school food program is a key factor in the ability of the school to function at all.

Here is a little glimpse into a typical day in the school food program.

It starts with 9 wonderful ladies and a gentleman: our hospitality staff.

The food is cooked in large (VERY large) pots over charcoal.  Once the food is ready, the ladies scoop the rice and beans out of the pots into large basins.

Then, the basins of food, plates, and silverware are loaded into wheelbarrows for transport to the school.

Away from the kitchen…

…up past the future cafeteria (which will negate the need for wheelbarrows!)…

…through the groups of playing boys…

….and into the fourth grade room, which is also used as the lunch serving station.

Meanwhile, the kids wash their hands…

…and line up to receive their food.

They then head back to their classrooms, where they eat their meal at their desks.

The six grade boys ham it up for the camera, as usual.

Then, it is over to the kindergarten.

(They’re just so stinkin’ cute.)

Finally, it’s the end of the day, and time to wash all those dishes.

We thank God for making it possible for us to continue the school food program!

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