CACFP Inspire: Andrea Rivera of Christian Military Academy, Puerto Rico
October 13, 2022
Andrea Rivera is the Nutrition Specialist for Head Start and Early Head Start at Christian Military Academy in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, overseeing the administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). She has been part of Christian Military Academy since it opened in 2017. Andrea has an Associate of Arts, a Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences with a Minor in Business Administration, a Masters in Health, and in June 2022 she obtained her Doctorate in Education in Instructional Technology.
With experience and credentials like these, it’s no surprise that the Food and Nutrition Services office selected Andrea to create a new community food service program at the start of the pandemic. It would be the first of its kind for Puerto Rico. Regardless of child care enrollment or income, Andrea’s program would serve food to students and children in Vega Baja up to age eighteen. In a matter of weeks, Andrea went from her full-time role administering the food program at her Head Start, to doing all that in addition to the development of a brand-new community program.
Priority number one was hiring 30 newly created positions. Finding employees in the early days of the pandemic was both a challenge and a gift. Andrea and her team were excited to bring additional stability to their community during a time of economic uncertainty but finding staff to fill the positions during the shutdown took real effort.
Eventually, it all came together, and this new community food program has now served over a million rations to children in Vega Baja as well as several adjacent communities. Andrea started a program that no one had ever started before in Puerto Rico with just a group seven and turned it into a program where over a million individual breakfasts and lunches have been served. She created thirty jobs, and she offered economic opportunities and food stability to her community.