According to recent surveys, 35% of Argentine children live in homes with Unsatisfied Basic Needs. Of these homes, 53.4% receive food subsidies for their children. In the poorest provinces in the North of Argentina (Formosa, Chaco, Corrientes and Misiones) the percentage of children in homes below the Line of Poverty is 77.2%. In the Northwest (Salta, Santiago del Estero, Jujuy and Tucumán) the proportion is 75.7%. Huerta Niño has prioritized its work in these two regions with the goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition in children of school age.
One out of four Argentine children (26.6%) eat once a day, at the schools dining hall.
Description of Mi Huerta Program:
The Mi Huerta program, started in 1999 and consolidated in 2003 with the creation of the Huerta Niño Foundation, is an initiative of the Belgian-Argentinean innovator Felipe Lobert, whose objective is to alleviate child hunger and malnutrition in Argentina through the construction of organic community gardens in rural schools in the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
Felipe designed a sustainable and transferable solution to the scourge of hunger in Argentina, allowing thousands of children and their families access a healthy diet of agroecological and self-sustaining production by means of a successful educational program.
Huerta Niño foundation trains communities to build a vegetable garden and a greenhouse on the school grounds. Garden products supply the school dining halls, where children receive their daily meals. The program promotes food security (rooted in the National Food Security Plan) for the population in a situation of structural poverty by providing training and resources for self-production of nutritious food. The foundation works in partnership with locally-based technicians of Pro-Huerta, a program of the Argentine State within the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) that fosters community agriculture to achieve food sovereignity in underpriviledged areas of the country.
The garden not only address an urgent nutritional challenge but also mainstreams the curriculum and plays a key role in school subjects, thus being an element and a complement to learning and knowledge. The startup and building of the garden, the fundamentals of agroecological food production and the knowledge on healthy nutrition are incorporated into the daily learning not only as an extraprogramatic content but also as support for the development of regular disciplines: Natural Sciences (self-explanatory); Language (listening, understanding , writing, recording of information by direct observation); Mathematics / Geometry(measurement and calculation of perimeters, volumes and proportions of perimeter fences, vegetable beds); Social Sciences (revaluation of the rural environment and recovery of local knowledge, early notions of methodology and project cycle). Ethical axis: assessment of natural resources, creative imagination, attitude of cooperation, solidarity and responsible dedication.
Community school gardens proved to be a versatile and sustainable solution; are in themselves a source of nutrition, training, social development and land protection. The innovation is based on the recovery of a lost culture to which it is imperative to return to, towards ensuring sustenance in contexts of inequality and exclusion: the cultivation of land, the preservation of environment and the recovery cultural heritage.
Children are educated in the values of their culture and identity as the gardens are inserted in the community and appropriated by their protagonists (parents, teachers and neigbours) and the environment, fostering development from a territorial approach.
The Program has consolidated with presence in hundreds of Argentine rural schools, constituing itself a sustainable and replicable educational program to combat the endemic scourges of hunger and malnutrition in Argentina.
By March 2017, Huerta Niño Foundation has developed more than 400 school garden projects throughout Argentina, benefiting more than 32,000 children and their families.
The first garden, established in 1999 in El Aguará (Chaco Province) is still up and running, giving testimony of the sustainability of our project:
Grant funds would be used to:
Scalate the impact of the Mi Huerta Program:
The organization has more than 400 active projects. The potential impact is demonstrated by the growth in the number of children benefited from the first garden to 32,200 at present. The replication of the experience can be immediate since the processes are systematized and are adaptable to all the communities of the Argentine territory, regardless of their climatic and geographical conditions.
FHN has surveyed more than 600 schools interested in participating in the program pending funding. FHN plans to build 200 new gardens by 2018 and to reach 1000 active projects in two more years, benefiting 100,000 children.
A regionalization strategy is in progress, in articulation with provincial and national ministries, through the establishment of provincial nodes in areas of greater food criticaliity, which would allow an exponential increase in the number of communities benefited.
Boost research and desing of a program on access to safe water:
FHN is currently conducting a research and desingning a new program to ease access to safe water and sanitation in the most disadvantaged rural areas of Argentina: water harvesting , proper management, sustainable use and healthy consumption. Funds would be invested to further develop this essential -so far successful- program.
Strengthen evaluation and impact measurement processes of the Mi Huerta Program:
Funds would also contribute to develop an ongoing evaluation and impact assessment study carried out by the foundation to improve and quantify the value of what we do for Argentine children.