Lunch Program in Barahona, Dominican Republic
Barahona, Dominican Republic is one of the most impoverished regions of the country. Unemployment is high, illiteracy is a problem and opportunities are scarce. Many of the families from this community do not have the resources to provide food for their children, affecting attendance at school and contributing to illiteracy and high levels of teen pregnancy.
Juana Balbuena, a pillar in the Nuevo Amparo community, started the lunch program with support from the local Diocese in 1993, to help encourage children to attend school and help combat some of the challenges in the community. She works tirelessly for the children and is an institution in the community. CAFE has been supporting the program in Nuevo Amparo since 2003.
The program has 350 children aged 3 years to 14 years registered, and feeds 250 to 300 children daily in two shifts. This important program provides many of them with their only substantial meal of the day. The meal provided encourages children to attend school, and with full bellies, they are able to concentrate on their studies.
The program runs all year except for a few weeks at the beginning of August. Mothers from the community prepare the lunch and community members and former students help serve and clean up.
The impact of this program on the community has been excellent. More children, especially girls, are finishing school and continuing onto high school. Fewer young girls are becoming pregnant, and individuals who have benefited from the program and completed their education are giving back to their community by volunteering for the program and being mentors to the kids.
This was CAFE’s first project and we are proud to continue supporting this vital program.