VAMOS feeding projects are very important to all of our children. Food is the key to any successful educational program with the poor. This is why VAMOS established its feeding centers from the very beginning as the backbone of all the other programs.
VAMOS offers free meals to every child attending the ten community centers. As soon as children arrive and after washing their hands, they receive a complete and balanced meal prepared with fresh ingredients by cooks employed by VAMOS for this sole purpose. All of our centers have a kitchen with the basic equipment and project coordinators take care of the daily shopping for ingredients and are aware of what is required for meal preparations.
One little noticed but important advantage to the feeding and health programs is that it helps families stay together. When food and health services are provided by VAMOS and EDFK, there is less pressure on the Dads to leave Mexico to look for work.
After a course on nutrition offered for VAMOS cooks and project coordinators, VAMOS created its own cook book for the projects. It contains 53 different menus, each of them including a main course with a source of protein, a side dish or salad, a dessert or fruit, and a beverage. Of course, we always provide tortillas, the mainstay of most Mexican meals.
After eating, children receive a vitamin, brush their teeth and go back to the same table they used for eating to begin the day's learning activities. The total time for our feeding and educational projects is two hours. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, we are not able to open our centers every day for both morning and afternoon shifts. Each center has its own day and hour schedule.
In 2010 VAMOS served 181,162 fresh and nutritious meals for free to poor children, mothers and elders! Almost half of these meals have traditionally been funded by EDFK.
As Alejandro has said:
"Every day we are careful to maintain our feeding costs according to the annual budget. It's very difficult these days with prices changing every week and always going higher! As of last June our average cost per child, per meal, was 85 cents. This cost includes the following: food supplies, ingredients, tortillas, clean water for drinking and cooking, cooking gas, transportation, and salaries and benefits for cooks. Currently, VAMOS employs 18 cooks in its ten centers."
Long time friends of EDFK will remember that per meal costs have more that doubled since we began our work in 1999.
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