Fyffes Doubles Down on Commitment to Education
- by Anne Allen
CORAL GABLES, FL - As off-shore melon production continues, the New Year also marks a return to school for the children of seasonal workers in Honduras and Guatemala. With Fyffes counting among its core values a focus on providing academic development for local children, here’s how the global produce distributor invests in its farming communities.
In 2016, Fyffes launched a program in which it works with teachers to identify the school supplies most in demand as well as how best to target improving student-achievement levels. According to a company press release, Fyffes also provides financial assistance in the form of paying teachers’ wages and contributing to local Children’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations on an annual basis.
“A core focus of our mission is to be an empowering force in the communities in which we operate,” said Global Sustainability Director Julie Cournoyer. “This includes everything from providing well-rounded education to funding teacher salaries and improving living conditions for families.”
In neighboring Guatemala, Fyffes has been supporting the academic experience for students since 2015 through its “FUNDASOL” foundation. Each year, more than 650 students attending 30-plus schools benefit from the educational initiative, the press release noted. This includes providing students with school supplies and new desks; staffing teachers to lead vital courses that include English, psychology, and computer science; and improving the learning environment by way of repainting schools, improving restrooms, and updating sporting facilities. Fyffes also works in coordination with Plan International, an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children's rights.
In order to facilitate an academic environment, Fyffes works to improve safety, hygiene, and overall learning conditions for students in elementary schools adjacent to its farms. In the Honduran villages of El Naranjal and Pueblo Nuevo, the company has replaced latrines with toilets to reduce exposure to gastrointestinal illnesses. It has also built perimeter fences to improve security around schools in addition to upgrading electrical power systems.
“These children represent the future, so it’s very important to Fyffes that we affect positive influence on these kids from a very early age,” added Cournoyer. “School supplies, building infrastructure, security—we recognize and support how crucial all of these factors are toward a successful learning environment.”
In addition to updating infrastructure, the company also looks to improve on-site school medical care. Through a Fyffes-directed and -funded program, Dr. Osorio, a native of Nicaragua, is one of four doctors who runs clinics at melon farms in Honduras. He provides check-ups, vaccinations, and medicine at no charge to elementary school students.
“Both educating and improving the health conditions of our children is so important for the future of these communities,” concluded Cournoyer. “We’re talking about lifelong effects and benefits, and that’s an effort Fyffes is so eager to be spearheading!”
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