Capacity building for nutrition education in Mexico

Capacitación en educación alimentaria y nutricional al personal y familias beneficiarias del programa de apoyo alimentario

(Training in food and nutrition education for personnel and beneficiary families of the food assistance programme (PAL))

Project Summary

Title: Capacitación en educación alimentaria y nutricional al personal y familias beneficiarias del programa de apoyo alimentario

Country: Mexico

Duration: 2004 - 2006

Responsible Ministries/institutions/partnerships, including UN: Regional branch of the Division of Food and Nutrition (RLCE) in collaboration with AGNP.

Project Summary


  • Through nutrition education, improve the nutrition and health of beneficiary families of the "Food Support Programme";
  • Develop a proactive model of transmission of educational practices related to health by training the staff members of PAL.

Specific objectives

  • Design an integral nutrition and health education strategy for the families who participate in the "Food Support Programme", with the participation of the staff members of the Programme and Community Leaders as promoters of healthy practices in nutrition.
  • Produce, adapt, validate and use educational materials about nutrition and health in order to support the process of teaching nutrition and health issues to the staff members of PAL and to the beneficiary families;
  • Design a plan for institutionalization the nutrition/health education strategy, in order to ensure the sustainability of the positive impact on nutrition. Participating families will benefit from the project, but also others, through propagation within the communities.

Critical problem identified and addressed by the project:

  • In 2003, the Mexican Government launched the “Food Support Programme”. Its objective was to reach the attention of the poorest families through the provision of food, together with a greater education on nutrition in order to raise the nutrition levels.

    Malnutrition manifests itself especially in rural communities where people often do not have access to food in order to satisfy their daily nutritional needs. Using the existing infrastructure used for the distribution of food aid (through DICONSA), members of the project have participated in capacity building courses on nutrition practices.



  • Studied the characteristics of both the promoters (community workers?) and the beneficiary families in order to design a strategy for training. These characteristics included:  nutritional status of the beneficiary families; the needs and perceptions about food, nutrition and health of the promoters and the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the beneficiary mothers.
  • Developed an education strategy for food, nutrition and health for training the staff in the PAL as promoters to directly train the beneficiary mothers as community leaders.
    • Produced training materials to support social communication
  • Carried out training for trainers, activities, and training of beneficiary families.
    • Reported on the results of the pilot strategy on education in food, nutrition and health.  Documented how the strategy can be monitored.
  • Convened working teams between the PAL staff and the communities to reinforce the co-responsibility concept. Planed the institutionalization of the model for education and communication to cover the beneficiaries of PAL.
  • The project directly contributed to PAL by strengthening the ability of the families to acquire knowledge, habits, attitudes and practices to consume adequate food and adopt healthy lifestyles to avoid or prevent nutrition problems such as undernutrition, anemia, Vitamin A deficiency and diabetes, obesity and hypertension.


Main beneficiaries:

Capacity promoters and 1,400 capacitators. Capacity building for those who will help the families to consume an adequate diet and adopt a healthy lifestyle; end beneficiaries: 300,000 families 


Main project participants/institutions involved:

RLCE in collaboration with AGNP; DICONSA, Secretary of Social Development (SEDESOL)


Main activities completed:

  • Based on a cascading model of training of personnel of DICONSA, the scheme of training complemented the food and nutrition education scheme of PAN which transmitted this knowledge to beneficiaries.  

Main outputs:

  • Analysis:
    • study of the necessities and perceptions of development, nutrition, health and the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the mothers (within the beneficiary families); this qualitative investigation helped tailor the strategy to be adopted to the real situation in the families.


  • Elaboration and validation of the educational materials
    • an inventory and analysis on the existing education materials.
    • validation and printing of education and communication material (on nutrition, alimentation, health)
  • Didactic materials/numbers printed: for DICONSA/PAL and FAO:
    • Recipe book (with recipes based on the food items the families receive) (DICONSA/PAL 149 600; FAO 750 copies);
    • Guide for the facilitators of the PAL. 16 themes on nutrition and health and teaching methodologies (DICONSA/PAL 3 600; FAO 750 copies);
    • Flipcharts. Illustration of each theme in the guide (DICONSA/PAL 3 600; FAO 750 copies);
    • Growth charts for girls and boys (DICONSA/PAL 120 000; FAO 6 000 copies);
    • Posters of the “Plato del Bien Comer” (FAO 1 000 copies).


  • Capacity building:
    • Capacity building for the staff and families was achieved by using didactic materials elaborated for the Project. This education strategy was the basis for the formation and development of the PAL staff. The help of the personnel of DICONSA/PAL was fundamental for the development of this stage.
  • General objective:
    • Capacity building for the institutional and community facilitators, who could develop a  participatory education process with the mothers of the beneficiary families, in order to enhance their practices in food, nutrition and health. 
  • Selected themes for the pilot for the capacity building: adequate food, hygiene, growth and development, and malnutrition
  • Events on food in order to promote on good nutrition practices and to invite people to the PAL activities; weighing of children and preparation of complete meals.
  • Design and development of 11 workshops together with the population
  • Capacity building for 65 institutional facilitators (national level) of 16 regions in 3 workshops
  • 84 community facilitators (micro-regional level) in 4 workshops in Michoacán and Tabasco
  • 495 beneficiaries of the localities in Tabasco, in 4 workshops.


Main results:

  • Proposal for institutionalising the plan and its education and communication strategies in food, nutrition and health
  • The institutionalization of the plan will have a direct impact on the facilitators and the beneficiaries. information and motivation will contribute to the enhancement of health and nutrition of the families.
  • Over 60% of the mothers were satisfied with the usefulness  of the acquired information; the PAL found positive effects on the family nutrition status.
  • The facilitators found a significant rise in knowledge and attitudes of the beneficiaries.  

last updated:  Friday, January 8, 2016