Nutrition

Many of Plenty’s projects help children and families meet their basic food needs.

Adapting Food Security to Climate Change in Jalacte

Start date October 2018; Anticipated Completion October 2019

Activities and Intended Results

  • Promote Equity, Sustainability and Resilience to Climate Change with regards to Food Security
  • Three covered agricultural structures producing food, one managed by the women and older youth of village, two managed by school youth and PTA. 25% of the production from each structure will be sold to provide funds for maintenance. The women and youth will keep 50% of their production and donate 25% to the school feeding program. The school youth and PTA will use 25% of their production for incentives and donate 50% to the school feeding program. Thus the covered agriculture structures are maintained, livelihoods are enhanced, and food security for the children in the school is greatly improved.
  • Two distinct agro-foresty areas are set up with short, medium and long term plantings so as to enhance livelihoods and enhance food security while adapting to and mitigating climate change
  • Water for irrigation and chickens will be readily available through the combination of solar water pumping from the river, water re-use, and rainwater collection.
  • Knowledge and Attitudes with regards to gender and climate change are enhanced amongst the participants.

Collaborators

  • Plenty Belize
  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Rural Development
  • Jalacte PTA, School, and Village
  • Jalacte Women’s Group
  • Regeneration Belize
  • Ya’axche Conservation Trust

Funders

  • GEF SGP
  • Government of Belize
  • Plenty International

Pine Ridge Gardens

Since 1985, the Slim Buttes Agricultural Development Project has enabled Oglala Lakota Sioux families across Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to prepare and maintain gardens to augment their diets with fresh organic produce.

Loretta with squash

Life expectancy on Pine Ridge (pop. 40,000) is some twenty years shorter than the national average for multiple reasons, including persistent poverty and food insecurity. Families are burdened by diabetes at 800 times the national average. Access to affordable fresh vegetables is literally life-saving.

Tom-with-watermelon

The project provides tractor services for garden tilling, seedlings, seeds,  advice and tools in response to applications from local residents. Many became interested by listening to the project’s weekly radio show “Talking of Things Growing” on the Lakota radio station, KILI FM. Over the years, the project has grown into eight of the nine Pine Ridge reservation districts.  From a humble start of six gardens in 1985, 200 gardens benefiting approximately 2500 tribal members were assisted in 2017. Plenty has supported the project with donations from individuals, foundation grants, skilled volunteers and our deep respect and partnership over many years.

GATE School Gardens program

The rural Maya and Garifuna people of Belize’s Toledo District rely to a great extent on subsistence slash and burn style agriculture focused on three major crops – corn, rice, and beans. This type of traditional agricultural practice uses 5-7 times the land space as sedentary agriculture. As the district’s population grows, it exerts increasing pressure on the land to produce. As a result, the district is faced with a vicious cycle of diminishing land productivity as fallow periods are shortened, and increasing destruction of rainforest habitats to create more agricultural space.

A key focus of Plenty Belize is its multi-faceted Garden-based Agriculture for Toledo’s Environment (GATE) program. GATE offers local sustainable livelihood and addresses the multiple threats of environmental degradation, unsustainable agriculture, and poor nutrition. The project strategy is to create organic school gardens that can be replicated by both village residents and other interested communities, demonstrating the methods and benefits of organic gardening and sustainable agriculture and their relationship to a healthy biosphere.
 
 
Since 2002 the GATE program has grown to incorporate over 40 schools throughout the Toledo district. Plenty Belize staff, local partners and volunteers partner with school staff and students on an ongoing basis. Teachers and students learn how to grow successful gardens and experience the science and the wonder of growing vegetables and herbs.

GATE includes several components that make a productive and sustainable program:

  • Extension work/ technical assistance;
  • Tools, seeds, and other supplies;
  • Training of village volunteers to assist with the gardens;
  • Classroom training; educational support to teachers in integrating the gardens into their curriculum;
  • Encouragement to start home gardens; and nutrition and food preparation education.
  • Assistance with other school needs such as improved water systems

The GATE project has been a collaborative effort of many people and organizations since its beginning in 2002. Our thanks and appreciation go to:

  • Plenty International donors
  • The Toledo District Education Department
  • The administrations of the Methodist and Catholic schools
  • PTA members, villagers, teachers, and principals
  • Sustainable Harvest International
  • Belize Minerals
  • Belize Marketing Board
  • Trees for Belize
  • Pan American Health Organization
  • Presbyterian Hunger Program
  • Atkinson Foundation
  • Protected Areas Conservation Trust
  • Toledo Development Corporation
  • SATIIM
  • Ya’xche Conservation Trust
  • Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
  • UNICEF Belize
  • NOPCA
  • Peace Corps
  • VegFam
  • and many individuals.

 

Plenty Belize

Working together for the sustainable development of the people, communities, and environment of Toledo, Belize

Plenty Belize is a registered Belizean NGO with its office in the village of Jacintoville, Toledo District, Belize. Founded in 1997, Plenty Belize has a history of working hand in hand with other local groups to address local needs in a sustainable manner. Plenty Belize has acted both as a service provider within projects spearheaded by other organizations and as a project manager. Plenty Belize manages projects in agriculture, school gardens, health, nutrition, solar energy, women’s development, micro-enterprise and education, in close liaison with local government and non-governmental agencies.

Plenty Belize operates independently as a sister organization to Plenty International, with similar values and purposes. Since 1990 Plenty International staff and volunteers have contributed financial, technical and material support to the work of Plenty Belize.

The Toledo District in southern Belize is home to indigenous Mopan and Kek’chi Maya (who comprise about 65% of the district’s 33,000 plus residents), Garifuna, Creole, Mestizo, and East Indian populations. Levels of education, health, literacy, infrastructure and income in this district are consistently at the bottom of national averages. With 79% of residents living below the poverty line, the Toledo District ranks among the poorest in the western hemisphere. With over 50 villages, the population is rurally based and relies greatly on subsistence slash and burn style agriculture. Malnutrition is a persistent problem in Toledo with 45% of children showing signs of growth retardation. Hunger is not a problem in Toledo, as there is always something available to eat, even if it does not provide balanced nutrition.

Infrastructure in Toledo is the lowest in the nation, with many about 16 villages having no access to the electricity grid, and many not having potable water or decent sanitation facilities.

The Toledo District is also blessed with an abundance of natural resources. With 165 – 190 inches of rainfall each year, the climate is perfect for the beautiful rainforest that covers our land. The Caribbean Sea / Gulf of Honduras lies off our coast, as we lie near the southernmost point of the second longest barrier reef in the world.

Areas of focus

  • Sustainable development of energy, water, and food resources
  • Sanitation, Nutrition, and Health Education
  • Economic initiatives such as agro-business and micro-enterprise development
  • Environmental Awareness and Adaptation to Global Climate Change
  • Relevant Public Education
  • Inclusion of Women, Youths, and Persons with Disabilities in the development of their communities and beyond
  • Respect for the culture of the many indigenous peoples of the area.

Staff

Plenty Belize currently has an Executive Director/Programs Manager, and an Office and Accounts Manager; our Board is an active board assisting our work in many ways. We also have occasional local and international volunteers.

Executive Director/Programs Manager Mark Miller was born in the US but is now a permanent resident of Belize, living in the village of Jacintoville, about 8 miles outside of PG town. Mark holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Pollution Control, a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, and formerly held a certificate in secondary education.

Office and Accounts Manager Randine Williams was born and raised and continues to live in the village of Jacintoville, Toledo.  Randine earned her Associate degree from the University of Belize.

Board of Directors

  • Chairwoman Ms. Dawn Dean, Entrepreneur and Agriculture specialist
  • Vice Chairman Mr. Augustine Lara, Principal at Santa Ana Government School, Toledo District
  • Treasurer Ms. Zipporah Supaul, Teacher and Head of Business Department at Toledo Community College
  • Secretary Mr. Jack Nightingale, Entrepreneur, Toledo District
  • Ms. Sherilee Woodye, Teacher at Indian Creek Primary School
  • Mr. Ignatius “Gomier” Longville, Owner of Gomier’s Health Food Restaurant
  • Ms. Cordelia Forman, Rural Community Development Officer for Toledo West for the Government of Belize
  • Mr Abib Palma, Entrepreneur and Agriculture specialist

Contact

Plenty Belize
PO Box 72
Punta Gorda Town
Belize
Central America

(501) 664 – 5024

solarbelize@gmail.com

Food, Environment & Health

Throughout all Plenty’s activities, we support the efforts of economically marginalized communities to provide for their own basic needs, promote local culture, and protect their natural resources.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, Plenty works with indigenous communities, womens’ associations, local universities, agricultural schools and other non-profit organizations to:

  1. address immediate nutrition and clean water needs of undernourished and vulnerable children and families
  2. help families increase and sustain production of essential, nutrient rich foods
  3. establish plantings of trees and bushes with erosion control and insecticidal properties and increase their use
  4. support local efforts to process and market fresh, quality, low cost non-gmo soy products and related high nutrient foods

Guatemala Programs and Partners

Through Karen’s Nutrition Program (KSNP) at the Guatemala City waste dumpsite, Plenty works with local residents to increase the quality nutrient intake of undernourished children, improve parents’ understanding and ability to address family nutrition needs, and expand local employment opportunities. 2016 funding partners: Misioneros de Caridad, Plenty donors.

Through the Essential Seeds and Trees Program (ESTP) in Chimaltenango, Plenty works with the Mayan women of Tecnologia Para Salud (Technology for Health) and agricultural technician Amado Del Valle Montufar to help 80 farming families grow and use trees and bushes with erosion control and insecticidal properties, and increase production of essential native beans, corn and non-gmo soybeans. 2013 funding partners: Atkinson Foundation, Plenty donors.

The ESTP also works with professors and students of the agriculture school Escuela Formacion Agricola (EFA) in Solola to grow and distribute three varieties of non-gmo soybeans.

essential seeds and trees seedlings
Amado del Valle (rt), Plenty technician Chuck Haren, and a member of Tecnologia Para Salud check tree seedlings at the project nursery.

Amado with TPS reps.
Amado del Valle with members of Tecnologia Para Salud in Chimaltenango, Guatemala.

 

Plenty also offers technical and material inputs to help Mayan community organizations ADIBE and FEDEPMA in Solola, and the women’s associations Grupo de Soya Santa Maria (GSSM) and Unidas Para Vivir Mejor (UPAVIM) in Guatemala City, to improve their processing and sales of fresh soy products and other high nutrient, low cost foods in their communities. Funding partners: Plenty donors.

ADIBE Soyaria crew
ADIBE soyfoods production staff in their “Fabrica de Soya,” which was originally established with Plenty’s assistance in 1980.

new GSSM milk making
A member of GSSM makes soymilk for the KSNP food supplementation project, which serves undernourished children of dumpsite workers in Guatemala City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

El Salvador Programs and Partners

Plenty began working with the non-profit organization El Cuenco, the Programa de Soya San Ramon (PSSR), and the University of El Salvador (UES) Schools of Medicine and Agronomy in May 2011, in response to requests for assistance to establish non-gmo soybean production.

With the UES School of Medicine and El Cuenco, Plenty helps families living in severe poverty (an income level of $50-$100/month for a family of 5-6 people) to address undernourishment and employment needs by establishing production and use of foods rich in vitamin A, beta carotene, iron and folic acid, such as moringa, chaya, chipilin and papaya, and the growing, processing and sales of red beans and protein rich non-gmo soybeans. Funding partners: Plenty donors, Trull Foundation, El Cuenco, UES.

saves 2 days planting 1:4 a
A farmer in San Ramon tries out a new wheel seeder provided by Plenty. The seeder can cut his planting time in half.

non-gmo soy between plantain
Non-gmo soybeans planted in January 2013 between rows of new plantain in the Bajo Lempa region of southern El Salvador..

 

 

Plenty and El Cuenco purchased filtering tools and provided training on their use to help 65 families eliminate bacteria, coliform, and reduce lead in their water. Professors and students from the UES School of Medicine conduct primary health care, nutrition, and related environmental education activities twice a month to help adults and children understand and address undernourishment and water contamination problems. Funding partners: UES, Plenty donors, El Cuenco, Trull Foundation.

Plenty assists the women of Programa de Soya San Ramon (PSSR) and the Comite de Mujeres San Carlos (San Carlos Women’s Committee) with technical and material support to improve the processing and distribution of fresh soy milk and fortified bakery and corn-based foods within their communities. Funding partners: Plenty donors, El Cuenco, Trull Foundation. 

Chuck does wokshop
Workshop in soy foods preparation with the Program de Soya San Ramon and  University of El Salvador nutrition students.

women make milk
Marta and family prepare a lunch of soymilk, omelets of egg, okara (pulp left over from milk production), and chaya/green leafy vegetables at Rancho Grande, El Salvador.

Plenty partners with UES professors and students to help families living in severe poverty  improve their health, food security, and employment opportunities. With UES School of Agronomy, non-gmo soybean variety trials are taking place to make seeds available to farming families.

Plenty Belize

Plenty Belize
The San Vicente Food Fair by Kate Ford

As an intern with Plenty Belize for the past two months, I recently participated in the San Vicente RC School Food Fair, which celebrated their graduation from Plenty’s Garden-based Agriculture for Toledo’s
Environment (GATE) Program.

After travelling roughly two hours to the last village along the San Antonio Highway, minutes from the
Guatemalan border, we arrived in San Vicente with two truckloads of food and people. There local cooks, a chef from Punta Gorda, interns and volunteers came together to create a huge feast for roughly 250 people. The afternoon’s menu included a bean stew with roots; stir-fried rice; sauteed chaya, callaloo and cabbage; and a Mayan bean and masa dish called chep.
Plenty congratulated San Vicente RC School for developing and maintaining a school garden with the GATE program. GATE teaches children about healthy eating and securing food, skills vital to food security domestically. The Belizean population is facing alarming health statistics: roughly 70% of the adult population is overweight or obese and 16% have type II diabetes. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, which GATE promotes, is an important step in addressing these health conditions. Over 20 schools in the Toledo District are “graduating” from GATE this year.

We had an awesome day celebrating the achievements in agricultural education in San Vicente while feasting on excellent healthy food.
Thanks to all for supporting Plenty Belize.

Karen’s Soy Nutrition Program, Guatemala

Three and a half years ago, inspired by Plenty’s beloved Board Chair, Karen Heikkala, who had recently passed away, we began working with a group of Guatemalan women (Grupo de Soya Santa Maria or GSSM) to improve the nutrition intake of undernourished and vulnerable children living in squalor at the entrance to the Guatemala City land fill and waste dump.

During 2013 GSSM staff have  expanded the number of children receiving soymilk and fortified baked goods
containing 11 grams of protein, plus iron and calcium. They have been providing nutrition and soy processing workshops twice a month for women living around the dump. Additionally, they have started producing a third of the soymilk they distribute to the children. They also completed legal registration of their partnership, receiving a commercial license allowing them to sell their soy foods in the neighborhood.

Many thanks to Jewish Helping Hands and Chris Gruener for their funding support. Representatives of Jewish Helping Hands even traveled to Guatemala to observe the project first hand. If Plenty is successful in attracting sufficient funding and donations, GSSM will  continue distributing these soy foods to more than 300 undernourished children and 25 elderly people on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. This costs $5.00 a month, or $60.00 a year per child. Misioneros de Caridad fund a distribution of fortified cookies to about 125 kids on Fridays.

ADIBE

In 1980 Plenty helped to construct a soyfoods production facility near the town of Solola, Guatemala. Today, the facility produces a variety of soyfoods and soy products including shampoos and hand creams. It’s called ADIBE and Plenty has continued to offer funding and technical support through the years. Most recently, in July this year Plenty shipped to ADIBE a stainless steel soybean grinder and hydraulic press, that were donated by David Druding of Fayetteville, AR.

El Salvador

Plenty works with the University of El Salvador (UES) Schools of Medicine and Agriculture, the non-
profit El Cuenco and Programa de Soya San Ramon (PSSR) to help rural communities with high incidences of under undernourishment expand production and processing of foods rich in protein, vitamins and
minerals.

In June of this year Plenty representatives conducted a soy foods processing workshop with the women of
PSSR and UES professors and students from the School of Medicine and Nutrition. Participants learned methods of preparing soy cheese/tofu and tempeh (a cultured soy food), and how to include these low cost, nutrient rich products within traditional foods and meals.

With the help of a grant from The Trull Foundation, delivery of agriculture materials, equipment and
technical support is helpingover 50 economically marginalized farming families living in the villages San Carlos, Taura and Rancho Grande, El Salvador to increase production of essential foods. Representatives from UES School of Agriculture and small farmers in Rancho Grande and Nueva Esperanza, were encouraged by yields from initial plantings of non-GMO soybeans, (above photo) harvested in late April and late July.

Pine Ridge Gardens

This year again over 200 family gardens were supported by the program. Above,  Pine Ridge ranks as one of the poorest reservations in the US, with extremely high rates of heart disease and diabetes. The organic vegetables raised in these gardens directly address these conditions. Many thanks once more to the Philip R. Jonsson Foundation.

Combined Federal Campaign

Plenty is happy to participate in the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign workplace giving program for federal employees.  Financial contributions federal employees designate to approved nonprofit organizations are matched by the U.S. government.  Contributions that Plenty receives through the CFC are earmarked for its food and agricultural programs in Central America. If you or a family member is a federal employee, please choose Plenty as your beneficiary, using CFC # 11625

Plenty’s Food and Nutrition Projects

In Guatemala City, 300 undernourished children on Wednesdays and 490 on Saturdays have been receiving nutritious soy foods produced by two local women’s organizations. Four hundred adults living near the country’s largest waste dumpsite attended food preparation and nutrition workshops carried out by Grupo de Soya Santa Maria. The International and Trull Foundations and Jewish Helping Hands have contributed funds for these efforts. We have also been helping Amado Del Valle, the Agriculture School in Solola and local subsistence farmers begin to propagate non-gmo soybeans.

In El Salvador, 31 farming families in Rancho Grande received tools, seeds and technical support to help re-establish foods rich in vitamin A/beta carotene, and initiate plantings of non-gmo soybeans. Water filters were provided for 61 families living in Lower Rio Lempa to eliminate coliform, bacteria, and reduce lead in their drinking water. Plenty provided technical support and equipment to help the women at Programa de Soya San Ramon improve processing and distribution of fresh soy foods among economically disenfranchised families living in San Salvador. The Trull Foundation and El Cuenco provided financial support, and these efforts are being carried out in cooperation with the University of El Salvador School of Medicine, Department of Nutrition.

Pine Ridge Gardens

Our ultimate purpose is to:

  1. improve people’s health by helping them cultivate intensely nutritious foods
  2. retain and uphold culture by using culturally-specific methodology to achieve program goals
  3. rejuvenate depleted soils by adding minerals and processes of healing the earth at constituent gardens
  4. create a new asset for constituents by revitalizing and maintaining their soils by biodynamic methods and relevant spiritual practices
  5. support the missions of Plenty International, and Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

The 416 families served in 2012 represent the majority of gardening interest on Pine Ridge, and most have been at it for years. Despite the problems and obstacles, people consistently try to grow vegetables.

Families are burdened by diabetes 800 times the national average. Persistent poverty, obesity, food

insecurity, stress, alcoholic dysfunction, social pathology have long been characteristic of this federal reservation. Pine Ridge contains the third poorest county of the 2,147 counties in America.

Operating since 1985 independent of tribal or federal support, Slim Buttes Ag developed early partnerships with Plenty International and Running Strong for American Indian Youth, fiscal sponsors substantiating program development. In 2012, 416 gardens were made from applications indicating 2,496 people involved, at average of six per household. The program beneficiaries are families representing six percent of the approximate 40,000 Pine Ridge residents, mostly children.

Pine Ridge Gardens

Plenty began helping the home and community gardens project on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Reservation in South Dakota in 1985. Since that time, with the support of Onaway Trust, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, the Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and individual Plenty donors the number of gardens has grown from 4 to 400. Last spring about 20,000 plants, grown in the project greenhouse at Slim Buttes on the Reservation, were distributed. Typically a gardener received a variety of vegetable plants including tomatoes, watermelon, cabbage, peppers, squash and beans.

El Salvador Programs

by Chuck Haren

In September our Plenty team worked with the Director of Nutrition at the School of Medicine, University of El Salvador (UES), to bring agricultural tools and equipment to families in Rancho Grande, and San Vicente. The families share use of about 3 acres of land. This group, led mostly by women, will be planting moringa and chaya green leaf plants, and some other vegetable crops.  Family incomes average $50/month here, and these people lost many of their very few possessions in floods that swept through villages in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador in October 2011. Many thanks to our Plenty donors and the Trull Foundation.

Plenty is working with the University of El Salvador School of Medicine, Department of Nutrition, and El Cuenco (a US based NGO in Washington DC) to help Rancho Grande increase production of high nutrient foods, including soybeans and green leaf crops rich in vitamin A/ beta carotene, establish a food processing center, and address water contamination problems. A recent grant from the Trull Foundation, matched with funds from El Cuenco, provided water filters to 61 families.