WORLD FOOD DAY: Salesian Missions highlights feeding programs
Salesian Missions operates feeding programs in its schools and centers through partnerships.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 16, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins the international community and organizations around the globe in honoring World Food Day. Celebrated each year on Oct. 16, the day was established to bring attention to the plight of the world’s hungry and undernourished while providing an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the complex solutions for ending hunger.
This year’s theme, “Leave no one behind,” calls on everyone to “build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted, “Millions of people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, putting them at high risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. But ending hunger isn’t only about supply. Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet. The problem is access and availability of nutritious food, which is increasingly impeded by multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions. People around the world are suffering the domino effects of challenges that know no borders.”
As many as 828 million people go to bed hungry every night. The number of those facing acute food insecurity has soared from 135 million to 345 million since 2019, and a total of 50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the edge of famine, according to the World Food Programme.
Salesian Missions operates feeding programs in its schools and centers through partnerships with organizations like Rise Against Hunger and Feed My Starving Children. Salesian Missions identifies needs and coordinates delivery of 40-foot shipping containers full of meals that are supplemented with additional supplies when available.
“Salesians around the globe know how important healthy nutrition is for the children and older youth we serve in our schools and centers,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Children can’t focus on school when they are hungry, and those facing malnutrition often fail to thrive. Salesian feeding programs ensure that youth have access to nutritious meals to fuel their education, play, and connection with their families and friends.”
This World Food Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight feeding programs in schools and centers around the globe.
Children at Foyer Don Bosco, a home for abused and abandoned children in Kandi, Benin, have received food support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding provided food support for 36 children, as well as cleaning products and medicines for the infirmary. Ten girls and boys have also benefited from the purchase of toolboxes for various trades.
Foyer Don Bosco serves boys and girls in very complex situations, including those who have been abandoned by their families, victims of abuse, and victims of forced marriages. The area of Kandi often has an influx of children who are on their own. Children are sometimes sold on the black market and exploited in the workforce. A transit home was started with the support of UNICEF to host these children, while guiding them to other homes or trying to find their families.
Foyer Don Bosco was created for children who have nowhere else to go or need to stay for long periods of time. In collaboration with the juvenile courts of Benin, minors who are in conflict with the law and in high-risk situations are assisted by the Salesians. The border police also intercept children being trafficked from Niger and Burkina Faso.
Don Bosco Kansebula in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, was able to improve the yield from its farm thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The “Food security for the youth of Don Bosco Kansebula” project helped to provide food for 360 children and youth ages 6-22, as well as 83 young Salesians who are studying philosophy at Don Bosco Kansebula.
Most of the children and youth who received nutritional support are attending the local secondary school and college and live in the village. Single mothers were also supported as a part of this project.
Don Bosco Kansebula has a 44-hectare farm that supplies food for the Salesian formation house and to the village nearby. Since its beginning, Don Bosco Kansebula has provided young Salesians with philosophy education and has given them shelter and nutritional support while at the school. Villagers living near Don Bosco Kansebula have used the farm to cultivate food for themselves and the community.
Most of the youth in the village cannot afford to have more than one meal a day and the quality of the food is not sufficient. With COVID-19, many have been pushed further into poverty and do not have the means to support themselves. The goal of this project was to help increase the yield from the farm to provide for the nutritional needs of those in Salesian programs and in the village.
Students attending the Salesian-run Timkatec schools in Pétion-Ville, Haiti, had access to better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger. The shipment provided rice-meals from December 2021 to January 2022.
The rice-meals were distributed at the school canteen and sent home with students in need. A Salesian reported, “Since the canteen was suspended for the months of November to December for lack of rice, we decided to make a first distribution of dry rice to take away on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 7. The rice was distributed after mass in the courtyard of the Professional School: Timkatec 2.”
The Timkatec school has existed since 1994 and was founded for former street children. Later, it was expanded to include local disadvantaged children who had not had the chance to attend school until ages 8-10. The vocational schools were added later so youth could learn a trade for employment. Additional rice-meals were distributed at the canteens in the three Timkatec schools and provided to students to take home during times of school closure.
Vulnerable populations in Peru struggling with food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns received food aid in 2020 thanks to a partnership between Feed My Starving Children and Salesian Missions. With the support of the Flexport.org Fund, Salesian Missions received fully-funded logistics services to ship this food aid to Peru and another shipment to Guatemala.
Don Bosco Foundation in Lima was the main recipient of the food aid, which was then distributed to other Salesian programs serving vulnerable youth and adults, including migrant families and women and children living in conditions of poverty. The majority of the distribution went to Salesian programs that host community kitchens that feed local communities.
Don Bosco Foundation found that requests for aid increased dramatically after the quarantine. The aid shipped by Salesian Missions provided significant support to help families who were no longer able to work and put food on the table. Don Bosco Foundation has helped to support more than 6,000 people during the pandemic with a variety of services.
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