It is difficult to imagine not having access to food daily. While there are many children whose access to food is compromised in the U.S., we have some safety net programs such as SNAP (f/k/a food stamps) to assist poor families. U.S. schools also provide access to meals.

For those who live in Bateys, communities of mainly undocumented Haitians in the Dominican Republic, not only is food scarce (no grocery chains or businesses), it is difficult for residents to engage in self-sustaining ways to feed their families. The government does not provide aid. None. As a result, many children are severely malnourished and underdeveloped.

With a little help from people like you and me, these communities can and will learn to sustain themselves in a variety of ways, such as family gardens, but at this time,many of the parents cannot find work, and the need for food for their children is now.

The reality of infant malnutrition in these communities is dramatic; most children are severely malnourished when compared to age, weight and height of current U.S. standards. This state of malnutrition is caused by low food intake and the lack of nutrients in the body. In addition, children suffer serious infectious diseases derived from ingesting food in bad conditions as well as contaminated water, among other things. After a visit to this community, Dr. Tanya Benedict of Creighton University’s Master’s in Public Health Program, along with others who are part of the Creighton University community, created Pascal’s Pantry (named for a little boy she grew to know on her trip to the community).

Pascal’s Pantry is a non-profit organization that uses the proceeds raised to go toward the best practices of international sustainable development in service to these families affected by food scarcity. Looking to make a difference, funds are needed to help sustain a vision of development that harnesses the agency within this community and eventually leads to self-sufficiency.

Outside money alone will do little—outside resources matched by community agency can change any situation completely. Our long-term relationship with leaders in this community is the essential piece to changing the situation. Part of this work is the pantry and community kitchen. More work will include engaging community leaders on how to be self-sustaining through farming and agriculture. The people of this community are not the problem—they are the solution.

A relationship-based approach focused on developing community agency takes time and additional funding is urgently needed to provide food and goods each month. These funds will feed many in this community and ensure a consistent healthcare presence through a visiting nurse who is employed to check on each child.

Pascal’s Pantry has a 501(c) (3) in Omaha, NE and the EIN is 82-2589110.