The director of Holt’s nutrition program, Emily DeLacey, reflects on all of the children Holt donors have helped feed in 2020, and how despite many hardships this year, there’s so much to be thankful for.
Thanksgiving is that time of the year when our precious families come together for a meal and a time to reflect on all that we’re thankful for in our lives. Although this year many of us will be visiting with our families remotely instead of traveling, we have also been given the opportunity to reflect on what really matters the most to us — family, friends, a warm home and the food we feed our families.
This year I am especially grateful for the work that amazing Holt donors, Holt staff and partners around the world have done for children. When the coronavirus crisis hit, hunger was the immediate result. We knew we had to act fast. But in many countries where we work, transportation and school completely closed down — it became very difficult to find ways to even get food to children. But this year in response to COVID, Holt staff and partners — with generous help from Holt donors — stepped up to ensure thousands families and children got enough to eat.
By Thanksgiving, Holt donors will have helped serve more than 50,000 children through Holt’s Nutrition Program in 2020. This is something huge to be thankful for! Each one of these 50,000 children is now healthier, able to learn better and growing to their full potential.
Although the challenges are not over yet, I feel like this year has tested our resilience and found that we are all stronger than we think, and for that I am grateful. Despite countless difficulties, I have been so incredibly impressed with how Holt donors and our teams in the field have responded to the urgent needs of families that have increased during the pandemic.
From Ethiopia to Vietnam, many of our programs responded to all the needs and went further than just providing food assistance. In some countries, we provided seedlings and resources for families to start kitchen gardens — small home gardens nourished from compost from meal prep food scraps and kitchen sink water. These small gardens can really make such a different in the diet diversity for malnourished families, adding extra vegetables and nutrients that their bodies need. These gardens also help bolster families’ resilience to the increasing inflation of food costs around the world. With the addition of Holt’s livestock grants — where families can receive goats, chickens or pigs — many of these families are able to independently meet the their children’s food needs.
In other countries, like in Haiti or India, we have focused on ensuring children receive a high protein, nutrient dense, tasty breakfast! Breakfast is an especially important meal for children because your brain cannot store glucose without eating in the morning. So without breakfast, children’s brains aren’t ready to learn. In addition to this important meal, many Holt-donor supported sites provided routine health screenings and treatment for parasites for children. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 880 million children worldwide are impacted by parasites. Parasites are serious. They can severely affect nutritional status, worsen school performance and cause further health issues. Without treating parasites, children cannot get the most out of the meals they consume and can become more susceptible to infections. Receiving good nutrition is essential to children’s health, immune systems and resiliency to infections like COVID. Thankfully, all of the children in our community programs who have had COVID have fully recovered.
So as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, there is so much to be thankful for.
I encourage you to be mindful this year as you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. Take some time to reflect on how fortunate we are to have family, friends and nutritious food.
This year, I also give thanks for you and the numerous ways you have helped to feed children this year (even in a time of great hardship!). Because of you, thousands of families around the world are sharing a meal together, too.
Emily DeLacey, MS, RDN, LDN | Nutrition Program Director