The First 1,000 Days: A Mothers’ Meeting in Guatemala

We now know that smart nutrition (not just “enough calories”) in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is critical for brain development. A child who isn’t nourished adequately during this period will be “stunted” and never reach their full potential. It’s devastating for a family to watch this happen — and there are implications for the broader society, as well. From a purely economic point of view, that person will become a drain on that society’s economy for decades, rather than a contributor.

While this presents an economic and educational challenge, that challenge is easily met — and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is helping lead the charge. I was honored to join the director of the WFP in Guatemala, Laura Melo, as she visited a community mothers’ meeting. Guatemala has the worst stunting problem in our hemisphere, but with smart development — in this case, investment in “human capital” — that is changing.

Many Americans know only one thing about the United Nations: They hate it. What I’d give to have those people stand here with me and witness the value of this smart and practical work.

(We visited a similar WFP health post in Ethiopia last week. You can watch a video from that visit here.)