Healthy Meals

Healthy Meals: Building Blocks for Generations Present and Future

Urubamba, PeruChoquecancha, Peru
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Isolation sums up the lived experience of the indigenous Andean peoples of the Lares Valley. Our program seeks to break the cycle of absolute poverty that is deeply rooted in isolated communities by identifying, educating on, and eventually growing local, high-impact solutions: Healthy Meals.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the solution to poverty in isolated communities did not have to be found in building connections?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Total poverty is the problem. Isolation is a primary cause. According to the October 2010 report from the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica and UNFPA, Lares District is the poorest region in Cusco with a total poverty rate of 97.8 percent. Isolated Andean communities suffer from lack of services. Health services are regional; education is limited, basic infrastructure and local markets are almost non-existent. There are few options.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Healthy Meals has 3 stages: 1) Identify present health deficiencies 2) Educate on local solutions 3) Empower women to benefit future generations. In Stage 1 research is conducted to identify nutritional baselines among pregnant mothers and children 0 – 2. In Stage 2 mothers are educated on nutritional deficiencies and provided with meal plans for mother and child by a registered dietician. Food is initially sourced from regional markets. Bi-weekly check-ups begin to monitor nutrition levels in women and children and educate mothers on the benefits of diverse diets and locally viable food options. Stage 3 empowers community by educating women on how to construct and maintain greenhouses to expand food options. Local markets begin to develop.


Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Healthy Meals focuses on basic health, education, and identification of sustainable solutions for present and future generations. Nutritional research and basic health care are out of reach. Short-term provision ensures health issues that would otherwise go unaddressed are identified. Developing Healthy Meals provides high-impact solutions to many problems. Mothers and children receive the nutrients required for physiological development. Sickness is reduced ensuring increased opportunity for learning. Mothers are educated on healthy food options, indigenous to their surroundings. Reliance on regional markets reduced. Mothers are empowered; educated on how to construct and maintain greenhouses. Local food markets and income sources develop.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The goal of stage one is two-fold: develop positive relationships and trust among mothers, children and the greater community, and gather data to determine health deficiencies among women and children. To date, health and nutrition testing is underway. Blood tests check for anemia among pregnant women and children ages 0 - 2. Testing is not yet complete, but preliminary results indicate low levels of anemia among a small group of participants. Further testing of fecal matter and paediatric monitoring will provide a clearer picture of physical and cognitive development issues. Nexos ensures staff visits are routine in order to build trust and strengthen relationships with the community. Projected impact is an identification of health deficiencies to help inform dietary response in Stage 2 of Healthy Meals. Solutions will be found in local food options and spur local markets in Stage 3.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Healthy Meals will be self-sustaining after Stage 3. After nutritional deficiencies and indigenous food options are identified and monitored, Stage 3 educates mothers on constructing and maintaining greenhouses which provide high-impact solutions to isolation. Knowledge is transferred; reliance on regional markets is eliminated with local solutions; healthy meals ensure proper cognitive and physiological development; excess supply provides new source of income. Replication and scaling is possible. Early stages rely on temporary service provision, only. Local solutions ensure sustainability.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Nexos has established a reliable source of year-over-year program funding through international student exchange programs. University students join for short term exchange programs that aim to educate on Peruvian history, culture and responsible human development work. A new program is currently begin developed for semester skill-building exchanges. Currently student exchanges run in the summer only. Nexos' new program will be offered year-round.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently, the Peruvian government makes efforts to supply meals to children through programs such as Q'ali Warma, Juntos, Cinemas and so on. There is also one American organization called The Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD) that operates in the Lares Valley. AASD prefers collaboration with parents and local municipalities; they do not provide on the ground support as much as they provide technical support. Healthy Meals focuses specifically on women and children and is very engaged on the ground early on so that communities can be self-sustaining in the long term.

Founding Story

I have been inspired by the people in the Andes since I visited Cuncani, another community Nexos works with, in 2003. Since that moment I knew I wanted to learn more about the people and serve the area as much as I could. My work with other NGOs allowed me to learn about development and field work, but prior structures and models were not appropriate for the Andean microcosm. The model that Nexos has designed includes respect for interculturality and human rights based on the wishes of those communities. It fits with the steps they wanted to pursue and Responsible Human Development. I'm the founder of Nexos but I couldn't have done this without the support of the teams I have led since 2013.


Our organization currently has 4 full time members: two Project Managers - for the Cuncani Lunch Program, Photovoice Initiative and Healthy Meals Program - an Administrator, one Student Programs Manager and myself, the Director. I'm in charge to develop partnerships, promoting Nexos, supervising all the projects and I am currently working on strengthening the organizations capacity and with the design of the new program. Nexos also has 3 Part-time members: an Organizational Officer - helping us to reinforce the organization with internal processes and forms - a Social Media Coordinator and an Accountant. We have one volunteer who supports us with funding applications and is assisting with the design of our new Exchange Program. Nexos has 4 Board Members: Two of us work for Nexos; myself, and the Administrator and Student Program Manager; and two who do not work for the organization; a Peruvian Environmental Lawyer and a Peruvian Historian who is an expert in the Peruvian Reconciliation Process. *Ambassadors: Even though we do not consider them formal employees, we just started working with ambassadors to support us in raising awareness about our projects and programs. The Ambassadors are former participants of our Student Exchange programs. Currently we have 10 students that have accepted an ambassador position. As the Director, I would like to see the organization divided more clearly into two areas that are correlated to each other: funding and projects. It is important to continually work on the funding of projects and the organization to ensure that programs have the necessary resources required for success. Funding is particularly critical working in the High-Andean communities as they require a lot of physical effort and money for transportation and logistics due to their altitude, distance and harsh climate. Expenses for things like transportation and logistics can change suddenly based upon weather, accessibility, and availability of transportation. Besides strengthening the division of the organization I believe it is important to add the following positions: - In the area of Funding: representatives to promote our Student Programs in foreign universities to ensure our funding continues to be reliable and sustainable, and an expert in the grant proposal area. - In the Project area: a monitoring and evaluation expert who can devote their time to bolstering Nexos' research to inform our development models and development work better, and to make our research and analysis more accessible to partners and local governments for the betterment of the Andean people.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:


Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder and Executive Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I was in charge of the development of the volunteer programs for Nexos Voluntarios in the past, as well as the Student programs for Nexos Comunitarios, and have received close to 550 students from different parts of the world to date.

I have also worked with the members of the Asociación de Turismo Rural de Media Luna to help them to implement their Rural Tourism Circuit which has received tourists since the end of 2012. So far, they have received close to 300 tourists. You can find more information about the rural tourism circuit, here:

I am currently working in the design of a tourist activity that aims to become a BCorporation, that will organize tours that include opportunities like the Media Luna Circuit and the rural camps that are located in Cuncani.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I have 3 mentors:
- Dr. Neil Arya, University of Waterloo. Expert in Global Health and Peace culture.
- Dr. Ruth Van Dyke, South Bank London University. Expert in Public Policy.
- Rubén Mazzini, Vaxaa Associates. Peruvian expert in Marketing.