Two officials of Lunches for Learning Inc. told members of the St. Charles Rotary Club at their meeting last week about their program that helps school children in poverty-ridden Honduras stay in school.
The program provides a meal each day at schools in the program that encourages children to stay in school rather than quitting to seek work and food to eat. It concentrates on students up through the sixth grade when they have achieved usable skills that allow them to get a meaningful job.
Honduras is next to Haiti as the poorest nation in Central America, according to the speakers, Pete Land and Ron Hicks, board member and CEO of Lunches for Learning Inc. which has its main offices in Montgomery, Ala. They operate the lunch program in the Valle District along the mountains between Honduras and El Salvador.
Students enrolled in the program get a nutritious meal at school five days a week. As a result, they remain in school instead of quitting to obtain subsistence farming and back-breaking labor jobs that provide little monetary compensation.
After 6th grade, many of them have the education they need to go to work in the poor economy.
Parents must help in the program by preparing and serving the lunches provided by Lunches for Learning. The company is staffed by volunteers in the United States and the only paid employees are local Honduran citizens who provide essential management which keeps administration costs very low, the speakers said. Ninety-seven percent of the donations pay for the food provided to the children in Honduras.
Land and Hicks said the people of Honduras, especially the Valle District, are industrious and hard working but opportunities are across the area. Children are forced to fend for themselves and search for food at the expense of their education.
At the present time, 1,275 students out of some 4,000 at the 21 schools are included in the program. In the first year of operation, 15 out of every 16 students in the program completed their studies. Without the program, 20 to 30 percent of the students in the schools dropped out every year.
Contributions of $150 for each child or $1,500 for 10 children areneeded in the program for one year. The organization works with individual and corporate donors and foundations as well as civic and church benevolence groups.
Contributions can be made and further information obtained by contacting Lunches for Learning, Inc., 6670 Vaughn Road, Montgomery, AL 36116 or www.lunchesforlearning.org.