Malnutrition and food insecurity are grim issues affecting millions of people worldwide. The latest report from the United Nations shows we are moving backward in efforts to eliminate hunger, and families in low-resource communities bear the greatest burden.
By Angie Swanson, Development Director
Even in tropical settings like St. Lucia, Peru, or Tanzania, where bananas and avocados abound, thousands of local families don’t have access to fruits and vegetables. It seems unfair that people with such ideal parameters for luscious agriculture are unnourished. And without nutritious food, young children are at risk of stunted growth and development that can impact their ability to succeed in school and the rest of their life.
But it need not be that way. Sustainable, household and community-based food production systems provide families a pathway out of poverty, and women and children, in particular, stand to benefit.
With financial support from donors, and under the direction of local people, Global Volunteers invests in culturally appropriate household food technologies and training that allow families to grow and raise their own nutritious food. Our volunteers work alongside local people on long-term food and nutrition projects in Cuba, Peru, the Blackfeet Nation-Montana, St. Lucia, Tanzania, and the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.
Donations from grant funders and individual donors are used to construct household container gardens and chicken coops, supply school feeding programs, and support community gardens. All these initiatives are proven sustainable methods for improving food security, nutrition, and healthy habits in children.
According to the World Bank, investments in nutrition during the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday, are not only among the smartest development investments, but will also pave the way for today’s children to drive tomorrow’s growing economies.
The World Bank estimates that every $1 invested in childhood nutrition will yield up to $35 in economic returns, making investing in early nutrition one of the best value-for-money development actions. So, what are the ROIs of investing in nutrition?
Improved health outcomes: Providing adequate nutrition to pregnant women and children can help save lives and prevent malnutrition, stunting, anemia, and other health issues. This can lead to improved health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.
Better cognitive development: Good nutrition is essential for brain development, and adequate nutrition in childhood has been linked to improved cognitive development and academic performance. This can lead to better job prospects and higher earnings in the long term for families and an entire community.
Reduced poverty and inequality: Malnutrition disproportionately affects children from low-resource communities and can contribute to a cycle of poverty. By investing in nutrition for children, we can reduce poverty and inequality and promote economic growth.
Many nutrition interventions, including providing fortified meals, reusable Earthbox container gardens, and household chicken coops are extremely cost-effective and have a high return on investment. According to the World Bank, investing in early nutrition is one of the best value-for-money development actions.
Whether it’s community gardens in Cuba, household gardens on the Blackfeet Reservation, nutrition workshops in Peru, chicken coops and EarthBoxes in Tanzania, or all the above individual donations and foundation grants allow us to provide vital nutrition to the children and their families who need it most. These investments are crucial to promoting health, reducing poverty and inequality, and achieving long-term economic growth.