In many of the schools, kitchen conditions were so poor that it was difficult to prepare students meals. At La Cumbre School, for example, there was no proper sink for washing hands, vegetables, or cooking pots. Kitchens lacked equipment like pots and pans, and the pots they did have had holes in them. There were no counters or storage space, so materials were stored on the floor, and the cooks (school mothers) were forced to prepare food on very old tables that were difficult to keep clean. At Nueva Vida School, the kitchen measured only 6 by 7 feet -- in a school serving over 270 students!
Even though the students had access to healthy food, there was no way to guarantee that the food could be prepared effectively and hygienically. After conducting an evaluation of the kitchens at each of our partner schools, we decided to partner with school leadership to undertake renovations at four schools.
Along with kitchen renovations, Pueblo a Pueblo educators have been working with the mothers who prepare the school meals. Mothers have learned to cook more nutritious meals using a variety of new ingredients, like spinach.
We began providing meals again this week, now that the kitchen improvements are finished, and we are very happy with the results--so are the mothers who will be using them!