Nutravida promotes the use of soy products among low-income families to supplement their daily nutrition, by providing a glass of soy milk and a complementary food product each working day of the week.
Under the direction of Dr. Juana Carballo, a local family physician, and Ann Greig, a North American woman who has worked in El Salvador since 1993, this nutritional program has achieved near-perfect results in the recovery of weight and height for malnourished children under seven years old.
In 2014, around 50 households, or approximately 250 people, have received the daily soy products. The Project also runs a diner as an income-generating activity for women in the community of San Ramon, just outside San Salvador.
I. Nutrition Training Courses
Nutrivida also provides training courses on nutrition on demand. The trainings, during which the team explains how soy is an alternative, affordable source of protein, provides general nutrition education to increase health knowledge, and demonstrates new recipes to make alternative soy products, continue to have steady attendance and demand.
Most recently, the team held a training, entitled “Soymilk Preparation, Soy Production, and Nutrition Education,” for a group of men and women from a local parish, Nuestra Senora del Pilar. The participants have actively integrated the information and skills gained during the training, by frequently making soy refreshments for the Children’s Catechism.
Despite organizing these trainings, integrating soy product into the Salvadorian diet remains a cultural challenge. It also remains difficult to cultivate soybeans in the Central American country, especially when it undergoes severe drought conditions, like this year.
II. Soy Milk Commercialization
The Project also commercializes bottled soy milk with different flavors, including cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, which it currently sells in the National University, located in San Salvador, as well as a local fitness center. The Project has launched an exciting new program with students from the National University to find additional venues to commercialize the Nutrivida products, including local shops and restaurants. The ultimate aim is to ensure that Nutrivida is increasingly self-sufficient.
III. Expanding the Product Range and the Team’s Expertise
Recently, the team working at Nutrivida mastered the production of Tempeh, a soy product originally from Indonesia, made through a process of natural culturing and controlled fermentation binding the soybeans into a patty form, similar to a veggie burger. Nutrivida now promotes it locally and uses it for IPM Immersion Experience delegations, much to the participants’ delight.
In an effort to expand the team’s knowledge and skills, Ana Greig, the Project’s leader, participated in the annual short course on Soybeans and Soy Preparation at the Institute of Soy Research at the University of Illinois. She is still imparting that knowledge to her Nutrivida team.
IV. Computer Training
Nutrivida continues to a program launched in 2013, which provides computer classes to high-school students, in order to allow them to gain additional communication and Internet research skills.
V. Goals & Projections
On the short-term, Nutravida would like to receive a new computer and battery for the computer classes, which it would like to be able to offer to sixteen students Monday thru Friday. It also aims to increase the number of soy trainings that it offers.
On the longer term, it hopes to gain funding for paying the fumigation services required by the Ministry of Health License, which are currently $750.00, maintain adequate hygiene for the soy plant and kitchen, as well as maintain the License for Food Production for three years. Nutrivida is also looking for assistance with covering the expenses of implementing soy trainings, such as gasoline and materials, which usually arrive at $400.00.