October 17th, 2014 | forumfoundati
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Over 16 percent of all children in Panama under five suffer from some form of malnutrition. The incidence of malnutrition mirrors the geographic and ethnic patterns of poverty and is greatest in rural, mountainous areas.
Disparities in education, as in most countries, are key causes of poverty, malnutrition, and inequality in Panama. Education is therefore a crucial elevator.
In an effort to address the issues of malnutrition, educational disparity, and equality among student populations, Forum Foundation began meal assistance programs in 2010. By the end of 2012 over 400 students had benefited from meal scholarships.
But Forum Foundation discovered another issue: Many school kitchens were not equipped with modern appliances. Parent volunteers frequently prepared food over open wood fires, creating serious health complications.
The World Health Organization estimates that exposure to smoke from cooking is the fifth worst risk factor for disease in developing regions and causes roughly two million premature deaths per year as well as countless early-onset cataract problems. Moreover, many fall sick with illnesses that could readily be prevented with the adoption of clean and efficient cooking solutions.
In an effort to combat this silent killer and also provide students with balanced nutrition, Forum Foundation has worked to improve cooking methods in its schools. In 2011 Forum Foundation worked with C.E.B.G. Mercedes Bustamante in Toabré to revamp their kitchen facilities. In 2012 Forum Foundation renovated the school kitchen at I.P.T. José de Los Reyes Vásquez in Caimito. Projects for 2013 include renovations to the school kitchens in Chiguiri Arriba and Bajo Grande.