Hunger affects children in different ways. Teachers, families, and neighbors identified, interviewed, and selected the children to participate in the Community Development Program. Throughout the interviews, common themes emerged. Children exhibited hyperactivity, as well as aggressive and attention seeking behavior. Others were lethargic, lacked focus, and the ability to stay awake. Many children served as part of the labor force to help their families make ends meet, resulting in low school attendance. And all of the children demonstrated poor health and prolonged illnesses due to poor living conditions and malnutrition.
In the beginning, it was only a feeding center, which provided nutritional assistance three days per week. Amazingly, by only addressing food insecurity, we were able to see tremendous growth in the children’s behaviors, academics, and health in just a few months. Nicaraguan staff recognized the needs were greater than only food assistance, and the program was expanded.