As you may remember from our last newsletter, we were exploring a new program to supply breakfast smoothies for all of our students at Técnico Chixot. Thanks to the attendees of last year’s Rubbish to Runway - Boston event, we were able introduce a beneficial, nutritious trial run this year. We are now three months into implementing the “Licuado Program” and are enjoying great success, largely due to the tremendous effort of our students' parents.
Although many challenges can come with implementing a new program, our community’s response has been awesome. It began with a brainstorming meeting with several of the parents of students last fall. The attendees were enthusiastic and several individuals from the group formed the core of this year’s “Comisión de Licuados.” We now have 12 mothers who not only attend meetings every second Thursday and buy all the supplies, but also show up every single school day at 5:30am, taking turns in pairs, to ensure that 130 smoothies are made correctly and that all hygiene processes are followed. Not only are they donating their time, but after helping us develop a list of supplies needed, these wonder Mamas also gave the program 130 large plastic cups, cutting boards, knives, pitchers, the smoothie barrel, and donated one of the three blenders we’re using! While foreign staff members, Genevieve, Robin and Isaac are still present in most of the committee meetings, the elected President and Vice President of the committee have taken control of scheduling, fruit/veggie purchase and the daily menu.
One of the most fantastic parts about this new program is that the parents are motivated, albeit some with a little push, to come in every morning at 5:30 am to have the licuados prepared by 7:15 am! They work in groups of 3-5 parents to wash, chop, blend and prepare 130 delicious beverages. Although the mothers initially laughed at the idea that fathers would help, it turns out we’ve had several substitute for their wives! When the teachers arrive, the appropriate number of cups are on a tray and ready to carry into the classroom.
Each morning, we try to have three fruits, one leafy green (usually chard or spinach) and a supplement, currently flax seed but soon to be replaced with amaranth from our school gardens. At first we started with no sugar, however there was a lot of backlash from the parents about their children not wanting to drink the smoothie without sugar. This is one of the learning curves that we are trying to work through to get the most health benefit into each 10 oz. cup. We negotiated down (from five POUNDS) to one small jar of sugar and one small bottle of honey each day, for the tub of licuado that serves all 118 students and their teachers.
Coming up in the program, we look forward to a nutrition class for all the parents to explain the process and why we have been including certain ingredients to make this the most nutritious breakfast beverage possible. Working to educate and empower the community with this responsibility is crucial to the program’s success. Next year we hope to have the cafeteria up and running so that we can hire a few of the parents to come and make the licuados each morning without placing this burden on all of the parents at the school. As a result, the teachers have reported fewer complaints of stomach pains and slightly better in-class focus, as well as increased trips to the bathroom. We hope to grow and improve this program so that no child in our school will be failing to learn due to hunger!