Tag Archives: Jamaica

Hot Breakfasts for Schoolkids in Jamaica and Haiti

By BGR Staff

In Caribbean island nations like Jamaica and Haiti, it is not unusual for bright, eager kids to show up for school without having eaten breakfast; perhaps they have had only a cup of herb tea. It is hard, however, to learn on an empty belly! Determined to do something about this, over the past few years BGR has been partnering with the Trees That Feed Foundation, a U.S.-based organization dedicated to growing breadfruit trees and other trees that can be grown to feed people. TTFF also purchases breadfruit powder to provide breakfast cereal for schoolchildren.

TTFF used the grant provided by BGR for its 2016–17 funding cycle to purchase over 3,000 pounds of porridge mix from two vendors in Jamaica and one in Haiti. The dry mix ingredients include breadfruit flour, cornmeal, powdered cow’s milk or coconut milk, spices and sugar. The mix is packaged in one- or two-pound plastic bags, appropriately labeled. The near-instant powder is mixed with water, cooked for 5 to 10 minutes, and served as a hot breakfast cereal in the morning prior to the start of the school day. Needless to say, the young students learn much better after a good breakfast.

The BGR program supported ten schools, five in Jamaica and five in Haiti. This program is vital because the governments in these two countries do not support “basic” schools, that is, kindergarten and pre-school. There were approximately 925 beneficiaries, ranging in age from 3 to 6 years. Half were male and half female. The beneficiaries of this program, however, were not only the young schoolchildren who got a nutritious meal. The beneficiaries also included the teachers and the school cook.

Needless to say, the teachers benefited by gaining a classroom full of young students who are nourished and eager to learn. But the cook also benefited. When TTFF founders Mary and Mike McLaughlin traveled to Jamaica in February 2017 and visited the Jeffery Town Basic School, they saw the little children licking their porridge bowls clean. Then the cook, an older lady, came up to Mary and thanked her. Mary replied, “Oh it’s wonderful to help the children.” The cook said “No, you’re helping me … this job (as school cook) is my only income.”

TTFF is intentionally paying a price somewhat above fair market value for the breadfruit flour and porridge mix. The local suppliers are very small capacity producers—and the foundation hopes to support them as their main customer for 2 to 3 years, with the expectation that they will make a modest profit and reinvest in their business, lowering costs, improving quality and increasing capacity, ultimately to make their business fully self-sustaining. A win-win situation all the way around!

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Trees Are Feeding People in Haiti and Jamaica

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

TTFF_SFA farmer getting trees-1

SFA farmer getting trees

In October 2014, BGR made a grant to the Trees That Feed Foundation (TTFF) for 610 breadfruit trees to be distributed in Haiti and Jamaica in early 2015. With the grant, TTFF secured 610 breadfruit trees, which were grown to the appropriate size in Haiti and Jamaica for distribution in February and March of this year. Approximately 305 of the trees have been sent to the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) in Gonaives, Haiti. SFA has over 2,000 community members and works with small-scale farmers and their families in Haiti to help restore tree cover and increase food production.

In March, SFA Co-founder and Director Timote Georges started picking up the trees at TTFF’s partner nursery in Port-au-Prince for delivery to the Alliance headquarters in Gonaives. Mr. Georges has distributed an initial small batch of breadfruit trees and will continue to pick up the trees until all 305 reach Gonaives. Once trees arrive in Gonaives, they are distributed among 11 nurseries within the Alliance, and then further distributed to Alliance members and their families. The members are all very experienced in agroforestry and TTFF is confident that the trees will continue to grow and thrive.
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