JUSTA’s Comida Vida Nutrition Program has the mission to inspire the re-connection with traditional practices and local foods as well as educate women, children, and families in all aspects of health and nutrition. The nutrition portion of this program involves a series of classes that promote health education and nutrition for women, children, and families by offering workshops on physical, mental and emotional nourishment, and to provide natural, sustainable, and accessible alternatives to unhealthy and processed foods that have replaced local and traditional foods in the daily diet of indigenous families in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
Each class is taught by a local community member that is an expert in their field on a different topic. Each class provides information, discussion time, and a cooking class of healthy and locally-found economic meals that can be prepared in the home. This program has been carried out with adults at Konojel Nutrition Center, teenagers at Chacaya Middle School, and with several women’s artisan collectives around Lake Atitlan.
Past class topics have included:
-The nutrition of fruits and vegetables, general nutrition and malnutrition in Guatemala
-Natural alternatives to processed white sugar, diabetes, and a discussion on the importance of reading the label when purchasing packaged foods and drinks.
-Medicinal herbs, nutritious spices, and a discussion on holistic approaches to medical care.
-A safe and open a space for discussion on reproductive and women’s health, as well as breastfeeding and early child development related to nutrition.
-Information and recipes with local super foods such as Chaya Greens, Chia Seeds, Amaranth, Ramon Nut, Cacao, and Chipilin.
Why have we chosen this initiative as a way to give back to our community? Because Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, yet the land provides enough vegetables and fruits to nourish its population. From the lack of health education and the inundation of processed, packaged and sugary/greasy junk food from the Western World, local families are filling their bellies with foods that are not fulfilling their nourishment. Over 70% of indigenous children are chronically malnourished, resulting in slowed childhood development, diabetes, and a myriad of other health problems through adulthood. Educating today´s women and mothers on nourishment, healthy eating, and women’s and children’s health will ultimately enhance nutrition for generations to come.
JUSTA would like to thank School Yoga Institute for their generous grant to make this program possible!
In 2015, we also began Comida Vida Jr., a workshop series for elementary aged children.