Empowering Youth through Food Education

MANQ’A is an educational initiative that empowers at-risk youth through food education in culinary schools and cafeterias.

MANQ’A Cafeterías y Escuelas de Cocina establishes culinary schools and cafeterias in community centers in areas of Bolivia and Colombia suffering from malnutrition and high rates of poverty. The schools train and educate students in food service operations (for instance, managing cafeterias and catering services) as well as in food production. Since launching two years ago, MANQ’A has opened 11 schools and trained more than 1,000 young people. 

MANQ’A teaches basic principles of nutrition and cooking to at-risk youngsters, empowering them with training and work experience. The program not only benefits its students, but also the communities in which it operates; By offering food services and products to locals, the schools and cafeterias improve health conditions and access to quality food. MANQ’A also benefits local producers and farmers by providing a source of respectful and profitable commercial relations.

Relevance of solution

Approximately two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies1, and 13% of Latin American youth are unemployed2. By providing access to technical training, MANQ’A offers young students the opportunity to develop important skills needed in a growing industry. At the same time, its cafeterias encourage healthy eating and make use of nutritious, local ingredients, which improve the health and economy of the local communities.

Triple Bottom Line


In their food production, MANQ’A uses only local, organic products, reducing both fresh water pollution normally associated with pesticides and CO2 emissions from transportation.


By teaching youth basic principles of nutrition and cooking, MANQ’A improves communities’ eating habits and helps reduce malnutrition.


By providing the tools for building food start-ups as well as supporting local farmers, MANQ’A helps to grow local economies.


  1. Public Health Reviews. “Micronutrient Deficiency Conditions: Global Health Issues.” (2010)
  2. International Labour Organization. “27 Million Latin American and Caribbean Youth in the Informal Economy.” (2015)