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Non-profit group provides ‘safe food’ for rural schools in Haiti

Published:Sunday | April 5, 2015 | 4:30 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, CMC – A non-profit group here has been providing “safe food” to children in rural schools in Haiti, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“Every day at lunchtime, dozens of children pour into a newly built canteen next to their school in Palmiste Tampe, Haiti. They and their parents can feel safe about the food they are eating since it comes from a kitchen set up by World Central Kitchen,” said PAHO, referring to the group that provides “safely prepared food and education about it to schools in remote areas”.

Developed by the Spanish nongovernmental organization CESAL, PAHO said the project is set up to provide continuous training and support for cooks in accordance with food safety guidelines developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) alongside Haitian health authorities.
Palmiste Tampe lies about 50 kilometres east of here.

Like the majority of people living in rural areas of the French-speaking Caribbean country, PAHO said Palmiste Tampe residents lack easy access to affordable medical care if they get sick from eating contaminated food.

“Although food borne illnesses can be life threatening, preventing these illnesses is both simple and critical,” said PAHO, noting that Haiti has faced a series of disasters over the past decade, including the massive earthquake and the unprecedented cholera epidemic of 2010.

“Safe handling of food plays a vital role in preventing outbreaks of cholera and other food- and waterborne diseases,” it added.

In 2010, PAHO worked with the Haitian Ministry of Public Health to produce cholera prevention messages in the local Creole language.

The document offered guidance on safe food handling practices consistent with WHO’s “5 Keys to Safer Food”.

These comprise keep clean; separate raw and cooked; cook thoroughly; keep food at safe temperatures; and use safe water and raw materials.
PAHO said the strategy of targeting children for food safety education is not a new one to the region.

It said previous projects spearheaded by WHO have taken place in school kitchens in countries such as Guatemala and Argentina.