The St. Charles Parish Rotary Club hosted a group of special speakers in mid-August when the founders of the Lunches to Learning program stopped by for their annual visit.
Lunches to Learning is an innovative program that began in 2004 which provides lunches to schoolchildren in struggling rural communities in Honduras.
The program focuses on small villages in the Central American country of Honduras where the average wage per capita is only a few thousand dollars per year and about half of the country’s population (3.7 million people) live below the poverty line.
Education in Honduras is only mandated for those between the ages of 7 and 12 and of those students only 58 percent end up reaching fifth grade and many of those do not continue schooling due to the inability to gain enough sustenance during the school day.
The St. Charles Parish Rotary and its members have been a major supporter of the outreach effort for the past few years and last year raised the largest amount out of any Rotary Club in the New Orleans metro area to help feed school children who might otherwise have to drop out of school.
St. Charles Parish Rotarians and the St. Charles Parish Rotary provided a combined $6,900 to the program last year whereas other parts of the metro area combined to provide $4,500.
Last year much of the local funds donated to the program went to support the Escueala Nueva Honduras, located near Nacaome, Honduras, where between 65 and 71 students attend school each year.
Through local support, all of those students were provided with a daily meal that greatly increased the chances they would stay in school and learn basic education that will lead to a better chance at skilled employment and advanced education later in their lives.
“It costs $150 per child for a meal every day for the school year,” Ron Hicks, president and founding member of Lunches for Learning, said.
Craig Simons, chairman of the board of directors for Lunches for Learning, said he and others in the organization were able to visit Honduras earlier this year to assess how the program was working and were happy with what they witnessed.
“Most importantly we spent time with kids and parents of the kids. It had such a profound effect on us,” he said.
Simons said the results of the food program were easy to see and that the donated funds were well spent.
“Two weeks within getting fed students start learning quicker,” he said.
To learn more about Lunches for Learning call (334) 657-9069 or visit got to www.lunchesforlearning.org.