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School meals as a bridge to recovery

Cooking for the little ones

After Hurricane Irma, our team traveled to St. Maarten to investigate how they could support the Red Cross. This led to the start of the school meal program in October 2017.

The goal of this project was that both breakfast and lunch were served to almost 4,000 children at 17 public elementary schools. It allowed parents and caregivers to spend more time on cleaning up and rebuilding their homes. It also ensured that children were well fed and could learn in a pleasant way.

For this project we collaborated with the Red Cross and the Ministry of Education, Culture,Youth and Sport on St. Maarten. There was no fancy menu, no schedule and no disaster plan. Our team had to reinvent the wheel, but it eventually became a highly successful project.

Extended until July 2018 due to necessity

During the first phase of this project, 401,890 meals (breakfast and lunch) had been served. The school meals project got extended however, because many children still went to school without having had anything to eat.

When a number of primary schools started their own lunch program again, vulnerable children from secondary schools were also added to the program. During the entire project 3.116 children were therefore provided with breakfast and lunch every day. A total of 875,782 meals were served at 18 primary and 5 secondary schools on the island.

The project was initially supposed to run until the end of January 2018, but after an extension made possible by a contribution from the reconstruction fund of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, it eventually was stopped in the first week of July 2018, at the end of the school year. This project however led to a new collaboration between Open-House and the Red Cross in Waste2Work.