WISHH Cultivates Trade & Development through USDA Cochran Fellowships for School Nutrition

With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), ASA’s WISHH provided nutrition and school meals training in Washington, D.C. and Delaware for eight representatives of governments or non-governmental organizations based in Nicaragua and Panama. FAS requested that WISHH conduct the training through the Cochran Fellowship Program that strengthens trade linkages while also helping countries develop agricultural systems necessary to meet their populations’ needs for food. FAS in-country staffs requested the training for the participants from Panama’s Ministries of Health and Education as well as Panamanian and Nicaraguan non-governmental organizations that are responsible for meals for thousands of children and other social programs. The Nicaraguan participants included a representative of the United Nations World Food Program as well as World Vision and the Fabretto Foundation. Several of the groups are implementing USDA McGovern Dole Food for Education Programs that provides them with U.S. corn-soy blend.

Held September 30-October 7, WISHH’s training introduced these decision makers to long-time WISHH supply chain partner, Alimentos S.A., which purchases U.S. soy and corn to make a variety of foods for school meals and more.  ASA Chairman Richard Wilkins, Delaware Soybean Board Chairman James H. “Jay” Baxter, IV and soybean grower David Marvel met with the Fellows to discuss on-farm sustainability and quality assurance practices. Marvel also facilitated Colonial Delaware School visits for the group, which were timely given October is National Farm to School Month. Participants gave the training high marks for increasing their knowledge of school meals as well as opportunities to increase trade with the United States. WISHH is working with the participants as well as Alimentos to follow up on the interest to use more foods made with U.S. soy.

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Delaware soybean grower David Marvel (center with soybean plant) and ASA Chairman Richard Wilkins share soybean knowledge with USDA Cochran Fellows, including a representative of the United Nations World Food Program in Nicaragua.

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Delaware Soybean Board Chairman James H. “Jay” Baxter, IV hosted Cochran Fellows at his family farm where he discussed soil health and how U.S. farmers continuously work on sustainability and quality assurance. Delaware soybean grower David Marvel (center with soybean plant) and ASA Chairman Richard Wilkins share soybean knowledge with USDA Cochran Fellows, including a representative of the United Nations World Food Program in Nicaragua.

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ASA WISHH’s Cochran 2017 Fellows and Cochran Alumnae join FAS representatives for discussions about U.S. food and trade programs and policy in Washington, D.C. Front row from left:  Drucyla Castillo from Panama’s Ministry of Health; Paola Escobar of Alimentos’ S.A., which uses U.S. soybeans and corn in a variety of products; USDA FAS Deputy Administrator Office of Capacity Building and Development Jocelyn Brown; Maria Elena Velazquez of World Food Program-Nicaragua; Orlando Saez from Panama’s Ministry of Education; Kebyn Gonzales of World Vision Nicaragua; WISHH Cochran Alumnae Wilna Oldewage-Theron PhD Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech. Back row: Mabel Rivera from Panama’s Ministry of Health; USDA Branch Chief of Scientific Exchanges Division Avis Watts-Massenburg; USDA International Agricultural Program Specialist Adam Carruthers; USDA International Agricultural Program Specialist Adam Scheinkman; Rossana Bonadies and Giovani Ostia of the Nutra Hogar organization in Panama.

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Cargill Vice President Van Yeutter (back row on right) greeted the WISHH’s USDA Cochran Fellows while Cargill Director Federal Government Relations Kate Houston (not shown) presented information on how the company’s products are used in school meals around the world.

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WISHH’s 2017 Cochran Fellows present their foods made with U.S. soy protein following hands-on training from Alimentos S.A. food engineer Paola Escobar and Wilna Oldewage-Theron, alumnae of WISHH’s past Cochran Fellowship training programs.

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USDA FAS Deputy Administrator Office of Capacity Building and Development Jocelyn Brown met with WISHH’s Cochran Fellow group to share background on USDA’s programs that benefit both the United States and developing countries.

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