Abstract and Summary
The majority of our goals for the Winter Research Trip (WRT) were accomplished, but much remains to be done. We faced many challenges, including but not limited to a lack of time and language barriers. We spent ten days working (and playing) and were successful in becoming a real team, communicating openly, and gaining essential insight in order to work on the project separately and together, in San Pablo and the United States. We learned a great deal about nutritional problems in Guatemala and are beginning to understand the steps that must be taken to work toward solving them. We still have key questions to answer, a lot of knowledge and resources to gain, and a lot of hard work to continue in regards to our project.
Goals and Accomplishments
Although we had challenges to deal with, our team accomplished a great deal.
The majority of our main goals for the WRT were accomplished. We established open communication and formed a strong relationship with not just our team partners, but other students as well (San Pablo and Cal Poly). We feel that we have formed solid relationships with each other and have laid the foundation for future success within the Guateca program. The Cal Poly students brought healthy snack foods from the United States and recorded the San Pablo student’s responses and gathered the necessary information to help our product research later on. Our market visit was very helpful for understanding what raw resources are available for our products and how much they typically cost. We recorded the prices of over 38 different vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients. Through our questionnaires and an extremely beneficial visit to San Pablo’s health clinic (La Puesta de Salud) we investigated nutrition problems in the area as well as the level of interest and concern about nutrition. We increased our cultural competency through sharing knowledge and personal experience while practicing patience and good humor. We feel that the relationships between the Cal Poly and San Pablo students of Buena Salud are solid and that we have formed a foundation that will allow participants to remain motivated and involved.
The San Pablo students of Buena Salud are becoming leaders in the promotion of nutrition and health in Guatemala and feel they are proceeding forward with the opportunity to work with their Cal Poly partners. San Pablo Tacana is the first community to develop a project with regards to sustainable development using appropriate technology and Buena Salud feels they are generating new ideas and practices that will help improve the lifestyles of families in the San Pablo community and beyond.
Challenges we faced included language barriers as well as a lack of time and availability. Speaking different languages greatly hindered the efficiency of our work. Working through our language difficulties was difficult and required a lot of patience on all sides. Ten days was a very short amount of time and the pressure to perform all that we desired to accomplish was at times extremely stressful and challenging.
We found that many diseases that people suffer from here (such as anemia, diabetes, vitamin A deficiency, and malnutrition) are indeed caused by poor nutrition and are therefore preventable with a healthier diet. With that said, we learned that the nutritional problems faced by the community are often not necessarily due to a lack of knowledge but rather the lack of money sufficient to purchase healthier foods. We have concluded that it is essential that our products be affordable.
Nevertheless, after speaking with a nurse at La Puesta de Salud, we know that having a nutrition education component to our project is needed. There are major gaps in the knowledge of nutrition in the people of Guatemala , especially regarding prenatal health, the importance of micronutrients, and the dangers of processed junk food.
In terms of our team work, we have learned that language barriers are extremely difficult to overcome and should not be underestimated. We agree that both San Pablo and Cal Poly students must aggressively strive to improve comprehension of their foreign partner’s language.
The Cal Poly students learned that there is a wide open market for snack food products and there is a great demand for the products Buena Salud wishes to create.
Buena Salud feels empowered to move forward and create a business.
Important Questions to Answer and Next Steps
Despite our progress, much work remains to be done. We need to determine how to integrate key nutrients into our products. Trial runs of specific recipes must be done. We need to turn recipes on paper into feasible products. Additionally, we have a lot to do with regards to packaging. We must research alternative to plastics for packaging the products. We also need to secure definite locations and equipment for potential product production.
Our next steps include:
- Introducing and incorporating new project members into the team.
- Finding sustainable packaging alternatives. How can we package the products to be sold at cafes and markets in a way that does not use plastic or other unsustainable materials?
- Finding a professor at Cal Poly to mentor our project (for both nutrition and packaging).
- Conducting trial runs of recipes at Cal Poly and San Pablo.
- Determining an educational nutrition curriculum. How can we educate the community about essential nutritional information?
- Designing products that integrate key nutrients into products.
- Researching solar drying possibilities.
- Determining spaces in SP for product manufacture.
- Finding additional people in San Pablo who are interested in becoming involved with the business.
- Condensing and making sense out of the information from the questionnaires.
Cal Poly Representative:
San Pablo Tacana Representative: