Gardens for Health International

Ending chronic malnutrition

aka Gardens for Health International   |   Cambridge, MA   |  www.gardensforhealth.org

Mission

Gardens for Health International ends chronic malnutrition by empowering families to grow and eat nutritious food.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Solomon Makuza

Main address

2 Garden St

Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

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EIN

16-1772171

NTEE code info

Nutrition Programs (K40)

International Agricultural Development (Q31)

Community Health Systems (E21)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The majority of the world’s poor are farmers, yet millions are malnourished. In Rwanda, this disconnect between agriculture and nutrition is striking: 85% of Rwandans are farmers, yet 38% of children under five are malnourished. This simple concept, that food itself does not equal good nutrition, is at the heart of our mission.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Child and Maternal Nutrition Programs

The majority of the world’s poor are farmers, yet millions are malnourished. In Rwanda, this disconnect between agriculture and nutrition is striking: 80% of families grow food for a living, yet 35% of young children are chronically malnourished. This simple concept, that food alone does not equal good nutrition, is at the heart of our mission.

THE SOLUTION
To tackle the root causes of malnutrition, we equip families with seeds, skills, and knowledge to create vegetable gardens, prepare balanced meals, and keep children healthy. Transformative impact is possible by investing in the nutrition of mothers and young children, since well-nourished children get sick less often, perform better in school, and are more likely to escape poverty.

ABOUT US
Our roots are in Rwanda. For over a decade, Gardens for Health International has been working hand-in-hand with local communities to end chronic malnutrition. Our innovative curriculum on agriculture, nutrition and health topics was designed in partnership with local mothers, our trainings are led by talented educators who come directly from the communities they serve, and our dedicated staff is over 90% Rwandan.

We believe in changing systems, not treating symptoms. Integrating agriculture and nutrition into the health system is the only sustainable solution to effectively treat and prevent malnutrition. We work in close partnership with the Government of Rwanda by teaming up with community health workers, delivering trainings at local health clinics, and advising policy.

Program Details
We operate our Child and Maternal Nutrition Programs in partnership with 15 health centers in Musanze District and 4 in Gasabo District, Rwanda. Our Community Educators, who deliver the trainings, come directly from the communities they serve. They are trained to educate the mothers through dynamic lessons using hands-on activities, discussions, song, and dance. Program participants are organized into supportive groups and encouraged to help each other throughout and after the trainings.

Child Nutrition Program: Our flagship program serves malnourished children under five. We identify malnourished children and invite their mothers to enroll. Over fourteen weeks, participants attend agriculture trainings in their village and health and nutrition trainings at their local health clinic.

Maternal Nutrition Program: Inspired by mothers who said they wished they had known more about nutrition before their children became malnourished, we began working with pregnant women. Over six weeks, expecting mothers learn about nutrition and health topics to ensure their wellbeing, as well as that of their newborns.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Parents

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To tackle the root causes of malnutrition, we equip families with seeds, skills, and knowledge to create vegetable gardens, prepare balanced meals, and keep children healthy. Transformative impact is possible by investing in the nutrition of mothers and young children, since well-nourished children get sick less often, perform better in school, and are more likely to escape poverty.

There are three types of trainings we deliver in our programs: agriculture, nutrition, and health. Our agriculture trainings help families with malnourished children plant home gardens full of diverse vegetables so they will have a lasting source of nutritious food. We provide seeds and hands-on trainings in skills like creating compost, preventing soil erosion, and other techniques to maximize crop yields using resources available to the poorest of the poor.

Our nutrition trainings teach parents essential knowledge like the benefits of a healthy diet, what makes a balanced meal, and the importance of hand washing. Our innovative One Pot One Hour lesson demonstrates how to cook a healthy meal with limited time and resources so that every mother can provide her children with the nutrients they need to thrive.

Our health trainings work to break the cycle of illness and malnutrition by addressing every factor that leads to malnutrition. In engaging trainings, full of song and dance, we educate mothers to identify symptoms of common illnesses, promote family planning, and discuss difficult subjects like traditional medicine and gender-based violence.

Gardens for Health International is committed to rigorous monitoring and evaluation of our programs. We conduct baseline surveys of program participants and then conduct follow up surveys at graduation, and one year and two years later. We use standard health and nutrition indicators recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). When possible, we compare results to national data. In addition, we assess knowledge retention and behavior change. Key indicators include: nutritional status of children, dietary diversity of families, nutrition and health knowledge scores and prenatal care services utilization

Our longest-running program is our Child Nutrition Program in which we enroll mothers with malnourished children and then train them on agriculture, health and nutrition topics. In FY 2018, the average knowledge score for agriculture topics improved from 25.1% at baseline to 73.8%, for health topics it improved from 31.4% to 71.2%, and for nutrition topics it improved from 44.3% to 95.2%. The average number of vegetable varieties grown at our participants’ households went from 2.2 at baseline to 8.1 vegetable varieties at graduation. Additionally, the percent of children meeting minimum dietary diversity, as defined by the WHO, improved from just 0.4% at baseline to 62.8% upon graduation.
Our Maternal Health Program is focused on improving the nutrition of pregnant women and encouraging healthy behaviors. In FY 2018, the percent of women enrolled in our Maternal Health Program meeting minimum dietary diversity rose from 19.8% at baseline to 45.7% upon graduation. 100% of mothers enrolled in our Maternal Health Program attended a prenatal care check up at their local clinic before graduating, and 77% reported that they had skin-to-skin contact with their newborn immediately after birth.

GHI was founded in 2007 by Julie Carney, Emma Clippinger, and Dr. Emily Morell, who shared the belief that agriculture should play a critical role in addressing large-scale public health challenges. In 2010, GHI began partnering with government health centers to deliver agriculture, nutrition, and health trainings in order to end Rwanda’s high rates of child malnutrition. Since then, GHI has scaled to 19 health centers throughout Rwanda, served thousands of families, guided local, district, and national nutrition policy, and expanded its programming through innovations and partnerships. In 2016, GHI launched the Maternal Health Program that works with pregnant women to prevent child malnutrition before it begins. In 2018, Solomon Makuza was promoted to the organization’s highest position, Executive Director, marking a new chapter for GHI dedicated to local leadership.
Because GHI believes that the best way to implement sustainable solutions is by strengthening existing health systems, we deliver our program in partnership with government-run health centers. Over the last five years, we have developed a strong partnership with Musanze District, a mountainous region in the north of Rwanda with high levels of child malnutrition. We operate in all 15 of the district’s health centers, serve as a key partner to the government in crafting nutrition policy, and invest in the capacity of local community health workers. We recently commenced a planning process that will guide an ambitious endeavor to fully integrate our model into Musanze’s public health system. This strategy and plan must recognize local policy priorities and infrastructure while implementing graduated changes that allow us to closely monitor challenges and successes. We believe we can integrate our model into the district within the next five years.

Financials

Gardens for Health International
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Gardens for Health International

Board of directors
as of 11/18/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Emma Clippenger

Emma Clippinger

Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic

Daphne Petri

Kara Weiss

Child Relief International Foundation (CRIF)

Emily Morell-Balkin

University of California San Francisco (UCSF)

Julie Carney

Scott Warren

Generation Citizen

Nick Baer

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/18/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/18/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.