PALMISTE TAMPE, Haiti — Since that fateful January day in 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake claimed the lives of over 230,000 Haitians, the island has witnessed a saddening increase in poverty and illness among its citizens. This devastation has caused many to go hungry or eat food that has been exposed to foodborne or waterborne pathogens. A recent drought in regions of Haiti has only served to exacerbate the gravity of the situation.
Fortunately, the humanitarian and foreign aid response to Haiti has been a contributing factor in helping the country move forward. Countless nonprofit organizations, including Spanish CESAL and D.C-based World Central Kitchen, have helped out. Thanks to these NGOs, a school located in the rural community of Palmiste Tampe has a new canteen-style kitchen that will feed at least 240 children staffed with cooks who have been educated in food preparation, sanitation and food safety.
The World Health Organization said, “Like the majority of people living in rural areas of the country, its residents lack easy access to affordable medical care if they get sick from eating contaminated food. Although foodborne illnesses can be life threatening, preventing these illnesses is both simple and critical.”
The kitchen in Palmiste Tampe, rightly called Smart School Kitchen, is the first of its kind in Haiti and will bring many benefits to the community. Not only will it provide the school and community with safe cooking facilities, but also with a local garden and chicken farm so that the community will have a local source of food and the potential to support itself, thus creating sustainability in rural Haiti.
The Smart School Kitchen is equipped with five paid cooks, cooking facilities, a chicken farm with 27 chickens, dining area for the schoolchildren and a locally grown garden large enough to feed at least 200 children.
According to World Central Kitchen, “World Central Kitchen is training a community on cleaner forms of cooking, farming and feeding themselves as a sustainable community.”
The results of the Smart School Kitchen in Palmiste Tampe prove to be astounding. Within nine months of its opening in 2013, 1,100 pounds of vegetables had been harvested and 3,986 chicken eggs were utilized in school meals or sold for necessities. As of last month, attendance at the school right next to the kitchen is at 150 percent.
The success of Smart School Kitchen in Palmiste Tampe has spread to a local community college and all the way across Haitian borders to Zambia, where a similar project is in the developing stages.
This project cost CESAL and WCK approximately 53,000 U.S. dollars. This is a relatively small investment compared to the costs of emergency services and aid in situations of instability, crisis and famine. The measures taken by this project are rooted in prevention of illness and hunger; providing a community a better way to survive and feed its children.
– Candice Hughes