AP PHOTOS: Program fights student hunger in Peru's Amazon

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Peru Ashaninka going hungry
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AP PHOTOS: Program fights student hunger in Peru's Amazon
In this Nov. 22, 2015 photo, Leticia Artoro uses a comb to remove head lice and nits from her hair, in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka community in Peru's Junin region. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 22, 2015 photo, women gather to drink masato, a traditional fermented juice made from yuca, a starchy tuber, in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. In the village there also are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos, sometimes a little chicken or fish caught from the river, which also provides drinking water and a place to bathe. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 21, 2015 photo, a student stands barefoot with a ball constructed entirely of banana leaves, during Intercultural Educational Day events in Peru's Junin region. Hunger haunts the jungle home of the Ashaninka and the problem may be worst among children. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 21, 2015 photo, boys rest during a Saturday night communal party in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka community in Peru's Junin region. An organization of Ashaninka representatives, known by its Spanish initials as CARE, says some 80 percent of children under age 5 suffer chronic malnutrition. Thatâs reflected in abysmal education levels. Last year only 5 percent of students in the region passed an evaluation exam administered by CARE and the government. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
IIn this Nov. 21, 2015 photo, an elderly woman suffering from typhoid is helped off the dirt floor where she had been resting next to a burning fire, and taken into the house to be more comfortable in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. Government officials are trying to encourage good nutrition, distributing books that villagers read by flashlight for lack of electric power. âWeâre teaching mothers the nutritional value of the foods,â said Luis Contreras of the food program "Qali Warma," which means âvigorous childâ in the Quecha language. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 20, 2015 photo, a parrot perches on a clothesline where children's items hang in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. Nestor Alvarado, whoâs in the fifth year of secondary school, said that when classes are out, he also traps birds, worms and insects. But âevery day thereâs less in the countryside.â Loggers, miners, colonists and guerrillas have reduced the lands of the Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 20, 2015 photo, children attend Spanish and Ashaninka language class in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. An organization of Ashaninka representatives, known by its Spanish initials as CARE, says some 80 percent of children under age 5 suffer chronic malnutrition. Thatâs reflected in abysmal education levels. Last year only 5 percent of students in the region passed an evaluation exam administered by CARE and the government. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 20, 2015 photo, Ashaninka indigenous woman Nancy Cherencente and her daughter Leila sit in an embrace as they travel by boat from Potsoteni to Pichiquia, in Peru's Junin region. Caleb Cabello, a teacher in Potsoteni where there's a free meal program at public schools, said he says goodbye to students at his boarding school at the end of November, watching them leave by boat to their distant settlements. âThey go home a little fat and the return very thin,â he said. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, an Ashaninka indigenous mother and her children bathe in the Pichiquia River, in Peru's Junin region. The rivers, most of them contaminated according to government authorities, are the only source of water for the Ashaninka. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 20, 2015 photo, Mary Palomino washes the back of her partner, Rober Vazquezok, in the river in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. The rivers, most of them contaminated according to government authorities, are the only source of water for the Ashaninka. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, Ashaninkas indigenous watch the horror film series "Wrong Turn" on the laptop of health worker Jessica Ocampo, center, in Pichiquia, in Peru's Junin region. Government officials are visiting the village, which lacks electricity, to encourage good nutrition. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, Lucia Morales looks into the camera, as she stands with her mother and son for a meeting about a government food program for public schools in Pichiquia, in Peru's Junin region. Incursions and assaults by loggers, miners, colonists and leftist guerrillas have reduced the lands of the Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon, leaving many of the 97,000 members of the group malnourished, despite efforts by the government and independent organizations to help. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, students with receptacles line up for a serving of banana porridge provided by a government food program targeting public schools, in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka community in Peru's Junin region. An organization of Ashaninka representatives, known by its Spanish initials as CARE, says some 80 percent of children under age 5 suffer chronic malnutrition. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, students with bowls and spoons line up for a free breakfast provided by a government food program targeted at public schools, in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. One of the government programs aims at school children, bringing food to a little more than 3,000 students in communities along the Ene River basin. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, Elva Yumiquiri reads a manual from health workers to prepare nutritional meals for her children, before the start of a meeting organized by the government food program targeting public schools, in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. Yumiquiri uses a flashlight to illuminate the manual because her community has no electricity. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, Eunice Santonino snacks on mango as she sits in the front doorway of her home in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. After so many years of hearing her father repeat: "Yo soy pobre Victor" or "I'm poor Victor," Eunice decided to paint the phrase on the facade of their home. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, Ester Melendez feeds banana porridge to her nine-month-old daughter Dina, in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. Incursions and assaults by loggers, miners, colonists and leftist guerrillas have reduced the lands of the Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon, leaving many of the 97,000 members of the group malnourished, despite efforts by the government and independent organizations to help. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, women balance buckets of water for cooking in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka community in Junin region, Peru. The rivers, most of them contaminated according to government authorities, are the only source of water for the Ashaninka indigenous communities. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 19, 2015 photo, girls pluck chickens in preparation for a celebratory meal for the health workers who came to their village to promote good eating habits in Pichiquia, an Ashaninka community in Junin region, Peru. Thirty chickens were provided by the health workers for the meal, a delicacy for the community, who normally dine on fish and yuca, a starchy tuber. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
In this Nov. 18, 2015 photo, bowls of rice pudding, provided by the state food program for public schools, await for the morning arrival of students in Potsoteni, an Ashaninka indigenous community in Peru's Junin region. One of the government programs aims at school children, bringing food to a little over 3,000 students in communities along the Ene River basin. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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POTSOTENI, Peru (AP) — Hunger haunts the jungle home of the Ashaninka.

Incursions and assaults by loggers, miners, colonists and Shining Path rebels have reduced the lands of the Ashaninka people in the Peruvian Amazon, leaving many of the 97,000 members of the group malnourished.

The problem may be worst among children.

The Ashaninka Ene River Association, known by its Spanish initials CARE, says some 80 percent of children under age 5 suffer chronic malnutrition. That's reflected in abysmal education levels. Last year only 5 percent of students in the region passed an evaluation exam administered by the association and the government.

One government program aims at school children, bringing food to about 3,200 students in 54 communities along the Ene River basin.

For the students sharing battered wooden desks in dirt-floor schoolhouses, the program supplies food such as milk, fishmeal and the nutritious Andean grain quinoa.

That ended, though, when the year's classes wound up in November.

Until classes resume in March, it's back to the staples of manioc, a starchy tuber, and "masato," a fermented drink made from the plant.

In the Ashaninka village of Potsoteni, there also are tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos, sometimes a little chicken or fish caught from the river, which also provides drinking water and a place to bathe.

Nestor Alvarado, who's in the 5th year of secondary school, said that when classes are out, he also traps birds, worms and insects. But "every day there's less in the countryside."

Government officials are trying to encourage good nutrition, distributing books that villagers read by flashlight for lack of electric power.

"We're teaching mothers the nutritional value of the foods," said Luis Contreras of the food program "Qali Warma," which means "vigorous child" in the Quechua language.

Caleb Cabello, a teacher in Potsoteni, said he says goodbye to students at his boarding school at the end of November, watching them leave by boat to their distant settlements.

"Their odyssey begins in these months of vacation," he said. "They go home a little fat and they return very thin."

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Franklin Briceno contributed to this report from Lima, Peru.

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