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.

Guatemala Soy Nutrition Project

by Chuck Haren

In mid-August I returned to Guatemala to work with local partners Grupo de Soya Santa Maria (GSSM) in Karen’s Soy Nutrition Project. With individual donations, contributions from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries and grants from the Trull, International and SG Foundations, Plenty has supported GSSM in their efforts to produce and deliver nutrient rich foods weekly for 490 undernourished and vulnerable children, and help mothers understand and address the food needs of their families.

It has been two years since GSSM members went from shanty to shanty to speak with mothers and identify children in need of additional nutrition. At that time there was no running water, toilets, electricity or drainage in the dumpsite settlements, home to more than 4,000 people. During the past two years families have randomly strung electrical wires, dug drainage lines and collectively begun running pipes to bring water closer to their makeshift shelters. But the average family income has not changed and the dangers of living in an area with so much desperation, crime and toxicity persist. Yet despite deplorable living conditions and low returns for labor exerted, hope persists for a better life among many of the families, which are often headed by single mothers. Their tenacity and persistence in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles never ceases to amaze me.

Despite limited formal education, and a lifetime of living in poverty, our partners are working to establish their own food and nutrition center to make and sell small amounts of fresh soy and other low-cost nutrient rich foods to local residents. GSSM has initiated nutrition and food preparation workshops for people living in the dumpsite area. With a little funding help over the next year from friends and supporters of Plenty, GSSM members expect to begin making and selling soymilk products, sustain their own employment, and continue providing nutritional support for vulnerable children.

Guatemala

In 2011, with funding provided by the Atkinson Foundation, Plenty collaborated with the Solola-based Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP), Escuela Formacion Agricultura (EFA) and Amado Del Valle to help more than 40 farming families from 5 villages to grow black beans, soybeans, corn, and vegetables, while learning methods of mitigating soil erosion.

Farming families each received 500 lbs of organic compost along with seeds, tree seedlings and technical support to help them develop models for arresting soil erosion and improving their productive capacity. Students and teachers at Escuela Formacion Agricultura (EFA), the Solola Agriculture College, tested 8 non-gmo soybean seed varieties during 2011. IMAP staff and Amado provided technical support for the farming families.

Pine Ridge Gardens

On Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, Plenty assists more than 200 Lakota families to grow vegetable gardens in culturally compatible ways. We are now considering developing a buy-back vegetable program that would keep more vegetables on the Reservation while providing income to the gardeners. Greenhouse upgrades (like heat) or a new greenhouse are needed, and a barn for working on tractors and other equipment. Grasshoppers have been a big problem and money is needed for organic pest control.

25,000 children die each day due to poverty

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die every day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”