Did you have a favorite teacher in elementary school? Ms. Drean, my fourth-grade teacher at Beaumont Elementary School, made learning fun. Book reports consisted of creative projects. Our classroom iguana, Bud, was a houseguest over Christmas break. School days were definitely not boring. Ms. Drean was excited about our futures and did what she could to invest in our little lives.
Last month I traveled to Jalisco, Mexico to see OTB’s Super Kitchen and staff, and to share the program with a group from ONEHOPE Wine. Spending time with OTB’s ministry partners, including Escuela Severiano Ocegueda Primaria in Mezcales, Nayarit was definitely a highlight.
The chatter of school kids bubbled over the walls that enclosed the 300 hundred students. At the gate, we were met by a humble teacher who is changing tomorrows for his students. We’ve all heard the statement that proper nutrition is essential for learning. When kids are hungry, it is hard to focus, concentrate, and retain information. Some teachers believe in their students so much that they’re willing to do all that they can so their kids can succeed. That is the case of Luis Mario Ávila Miramontes.
Luis (pictured with OTB's Jalisco Kitchen Manager Geraldo) learned about Outside the Bowl’s Super Kitchen at a presentation where our solution to food insecurity was shared. He quickly realized that the kitchen could really meet the needs of some of his hungriest students.
Out of the 300 students, 150 of them come from families that are able to provide. 100 students have enough to eat on a daily basis. Luis’ concern was for the 50 students who daily went without food. Compelled, he knew he had to do something.
Taking the initiative, Luis set to fundraising and sharing his vision. Yolanda, a community member, joined his efforts (pictured below in pink). She shows up Monday-Friday to serve the children lunch. But she also champions these kids by soliciting neighbors and her co-workers to sponsor the meals. Rather than a one-time contribution, these friends give on a consistent basis. Yolanda tracks them down even asking, “Is your child going to eat this week?”
Schools in Mexico operate on a system where half the children attend morning session and the other half have class in the afternoon. During that 30-minutes transition period, 50 kids pop in and out of the outdoor dining facility—built just for them—to eat whatever the Jalisco Super Kitchen has cooked up for the day. Laughter, giggles, and chatter can be found as these meals are consumed.
“Most of these kids show up with no lunch, no money, with nothing. We are Christians and we feel called to do something for them because we believe if they don’t eat, they are not going to learn. If they are not going to learn, they will be on the streets doing something wrong,” Yolanda shares.
Outside the Bowl has been partnering with Escuela Severiano Ocegueda Primaria for one year. Yolanda shares, “We can see a difference in their faces. Their skin looks much better. In the beginning, it was very hard to get the students to eat vegetables but now it is not a problem. One of the teachers even shared that their grades are getting better.”
She sent a message home with me just for you. “We say thank you so much to Outside the Bowl. Without this help, we could not do this. We are very blessed to have you.”
For 50 students, futures are forever going to be different because they are receiving not only an education but meals served with love. What an incredible example of a teacher going above and beyond their responsibilities and winning the hearts of his students and Outside the Bowl as well!