NEW ROCHELLE, NY & EL SALVADOR (Feb. 6, 2014) - Close to 1,400 youth and seniors participating in several Salesian programs in El Salvador have better access to nutrition thanks to a recent donation of fortified rice meals. The donation was made possible through an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Stop Hunger Now, an international relief organization that provides food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable.
According to the World Bank, close to 35 percent of El Salvador residents live in poverty. Youth without access to educational opportunities are particularly vulnerable to poverty, instability and high levels of violence. Salesians working and teaching in El Salvador are empowering youth to create their own opportunities for success now and later in life. And thanks to the fortified rice meal donation, youth who might not otherwise have access to proper nutrition are better able to focus on their studies.
“The partnership with Stop Hunger Now allows Salesian Missions to expand its scope of services to youth in need,” says Jessica O’Connor, property and logistics officer at the Salesian Missions Office for International Programs. “Operating feeding programs for youth in Salesian schools whose families cannot afford to feed them is very important and integral to the success of our students and their ability to gain an education.”
The primary recipients of the donation were programs created at the Polígono Industrial Don Bosco, a business complex in San Salvador, that provides preschool and technical education, services for indigenous populations and seniors and feeding programs that assist those with scarce economic resources.
“Many of those participating in Salesian programs in El Salvador are malnourished,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “When there is better access to nutrition, they are better prepared to take part in educational programs and other services being offered.”
Serving at-risk youth from low-income families, Polígono Industrial Don Bosco has helped mainstream former street children, gang members and juvenile offenders by giving them an education and additional assistance so they are able to find and retain employment.
More than 200 youth were provided the fortified rice meals through the Miguel Magone and Laura Vicuña Program, a residential internship program at the complex. In the month following the donation, teachers noticed a significant change in their students noting that they were better able to focus in their classes and were more animated and engaged during class discussion.
“Access to nutritious meals allows youth to be better prepared to take part in school activities and focus on their education,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Prepared students are more likely to learn valuable skills that will help them gain employment, break the cycle of poverty in their lives and enable them to give back to their communities.”
Photo courtesy of Stop Hunger Now
Salesian Missions – El Salvador Programs
World Bank – El Salvador Poverty