Eat, Eat to Grow and be Healthy

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Shawna Lemke, Food and Nutrition Engagement Lead - Monsanto

In the United States, food access is something that is often overlooked. Many times we can take for granted the access that many of us have to food and water. Unfortunately, for many people throughout the world and in some areas of the U.S., accessing food can be difficult. Fortunately, companies like Monsanto have stepped up to help address issues related to food security. Learn more about how Monsanto is helping to provide food access in Brazil in the excerpt below: 

I’ve been interested in nutrition and food security all my life and career. When the opportunity arose several years ago to work on a team and devise an approach for the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto, I jumped at the chance to help. The Monsanto Fund is designed to improve the lives of people around the world by providing resources to meet their needs and create grant programs that address malnutrition in communities where we work.

The Need in Petrolina, Brazil

The area of Petrolina, Brazil in the Northeast state of Pernambuco was selected for one of our Monsanto Fund projects. Petrolina has roughly 340,000 inhabitants (per IBGE data). Nearly 40 percent of the population lives with a per capita household monthly income of less than $180.  The number of impoverished is extensive, yet somewhat unknown as municipality records are not totally accurate. There is a modest portion of the population who even reside without access to drinking water, sewage collection or treatment systems, or well-paved streets.

In order to help improve nutrition and access to healthy food for mothers and young children in Brazil, the Monsanto Fund committed $3 million over three years.

This support is coming to life is through a partnership with INMED Partnerships for Children. INMED began developing the Crescer Saudável [Growing Healthy] program in June 2016. Through Monsanto Fund’s support, the program is establishing vegetable gardens at 125 preschools. Each school plants a garden with the help of the children’s parents and a program agronomist, learning how to care for and harvest food that they then eat as a part of their school meals.

The program also provides nutrition education for children and resources for mothers, teachers, food preparers and local health professionals to help encourage long-term, healthy eating habits—both in schools and at home.

One educational activity that particularly stuck out to me was the children create artistic designs with fruit to teach them the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption. The program nutritionist and community coordinators, as well as the support of the town’s mayor, are critical to the success of the program, which is expected to benefit more than 58,000 people in Petrolina. This includes 33,000 children ages six months to five years old.