Information and news about food aid

Alimenta la SolidaridadVenezuela has a convoluted political, economic and social situation. The present humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has placed the country in fourth for the largest food crisis in the world. The nonprofit organization  Alimenta la Solidaridad (Feed Solidarity) chooses to tackle this issue head-on.

The Situation in Venezuela

According to the World Food Program, one in every three Venezuelans require food assistance. Venezuela’s deteriorating situation has decreased the household’s access to food as well as the purchasing power of the people. In 2019, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans suffered from food insecurity and approximately 9.3 million required immediate food assistance.

The current food dilemma is expected to worsen due to the current economic crisis. Already, the plight has increased childhood malnutrition and starvation. Children in Venezuela rarely obtain vital nutrients for proper growth and adequate cognitive development.

A Nonprofit to the Rescue

Alimenta la Solidaridad was determined to combat the rampant food insecurity in Venezuela. Since 2016, it has provided around 7,508,000 meals to Venezuelan children in need. The program started mainly in Distrito Capital, the capital’s state, but it has gradually expanded nationwide. It now operates in 14 additional states, has a total of 188 dining rooms across the national territory and gives food assistance to over 14,000 children.

The nonprofit recognizes the necessity to contribute their part to society. Alimenta la Solidaridad aims to find sustainable solutions to the food-related challenges that plague many low-income Venezuelan families. This organization works exhaustively to soften the effect of the nutritional deficiencies that many children in this program possess.

How Alimenta la Solidaridad Works

Alimenta la Solidaridad operates through donors with the help of mothers and fathers from the communities. The nonprofit gathers people willing to share their home to provide the space for community kitchens. Volunteers cook, organize the children, clean and manage the daily operations of this effort. The organization is “more than a plate of food.” When people with Alimenta la Solidaridad get together, they create a place of transformation.  Sometimes, they create activities that turn into opportunities for the development and empowerment of children. Mothers in the program also receive growth opportunities.

Alimenta la Solidaridad provides training courses that will empower the mothers. The new skills are then put right back into the organization. These mothers often end up taking one of the most important roles within the organization. They don’t only make the initiative possible, they also teach the children to grow in the values of co-responsibility, involvement and service.

Alimenta la Solidaridad aids the outside communities as well. The initiative contributes to the reduction of criminal indexes within the surrounding areas. Further, the organization promotes community organizations and volunteer work. They uplift these avenues of aid as a way to fulfill their mission of providing daily meals to children with food insecurity in Venezuela.

Hope for the Fight

Despite the painful reality in Venezuela, many efforts across the territory keep trying to find ways to help. Alimenta la Solidaridad is the perfect example of an organization that managed to provide aid despite the bleak circumstances. The nonprofit’s dedication and goodwill has developed a model based on responsibility and empowerment. This method boosts the sense of involvement and amount of voluntary service within Venezuelan communities in need. Food insecurity has met its match with the hopeful spirit of the resilient Venezuelan people.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Pixabay

Open Heart OrphanageIn the midst of COVID-19 sweeping through Uganda, six children at Open Heart Orphanage have died. However, it was not the virus that claimed their lives. The tragic deaths were a result of hunger and fever, collateral effects of the pandemic.

Food Struggles During the Pandemic

The people of Uganda must fight to stay healthy during the pandemic as well as combat food insecurity. The issue of food affordability is not only an organic result of the pandemic. Back in April, four Ugandan government officials were arrested for conspiring to inflate COVID-19 relief food prices. The effects are far-reaching. According to UNICEF, 6.7 million children under the age of five could suffer from life-threatening malnutrition in 2020.

The Hidden Victims

Uganda has consistently ranked among the countries with the greatest number of orphaned children in the world, and it has not gone without its controversy. Last year, VICE reported that there are at least 300 “children’s homes” operating without government oversight. Four out of five of these orphans have at least one living parent. Questions arise over the exploitation of these children and the quality of the care they receive. During the coronavirus pandemic, the children are even more vulnerable. Orphans are oftentimes the faces of Facebook scams targeting donors from Western countries.

Children are the “hidden victims” of the virus. They are not particularly susceptible to contracting the disease, but they will be the ones to bear its effects on the social and economic systems. Domestic struggles within the family, surging food prices and a shortage of available medical care have led to malnutrition and displacement, especially in developing countries like Uganda. The result is many children are being left in orphanages.

Open Heart Orphanage

The Borgen Project interviewed Hassan Mubiru, a pastor at Open Heart Orphanage in Bulenga, Kampala, Uganda. Its mission is to help orphans experience a full and productive life. Currently, the organization serves 175 “needy” or orphaned children. The Christian nonprofit aims to provide these children with education, medical assistance, housing, clothing, food and water and the love of God. Due to the pandemic, there have been some obstacles in achieving these goals.

“Coronavirus has crippled most of our activities because we were absolutely unprepared when the lockdown was announced,” said Mubiru. The pastor explains that the organization has always worked below its budget and did not store supplies ahead of time. When COVID-19 hit, they did not have enough resources to sustain themselves.

Even more challenging was the shortage of volunteers. Mubiru stated, “Those who used to individually help are no longer helping. We cannot guarantee salary or their payments.” Unstable payments met with mandates to stay in quarantine have deterred many volunteers from coming to Open Heart Orphanage.

Mubiru says that the biggest issue for Open Heart Orphanage is the lack of available food. “It is extremely difficult or impossible to get food as prices went higher and almost nothing was coming into us. We have so far lost six children due to hunger and fever since the pandemic started. These are things we would have prevented if we had enough food and means of getting treatment in time.”

Open Heart Orphanage strives to help children reach their fullest potential. The nonprofit is a stepping stone for the children and not a final destination. Mubiru believes that children are better off in a home than an orphanage, especially in these times. Mubiru emphasized, “We encourage families to adopt even if this is another crisis because the law governing adoption is tough and high fees.”

Miska Salemann
Photo: Flickr

hunger in swazilandIn 2017, it was recorded that 58.9% of people in Swaziland were living below the poverty line. Despite the country’s lower-middle-class status, the poverty rate continues to persist. Challenges such as low economic growth, severe weather patterns, high unemployment, high cases of HIV/AIDS and a high amount of malnutrition, the Swaziland population is struggling with an immense amount of poverty. A whole 42% of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day. With people in Swaziland struggling to make ends meet, hunger in Swaziland continues to be prevalent.

Food Insecurity in Swaziland

Many Swazis are chronically food insecure. One out of three people face severe hunger, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger is only increasing. With severe weather conditions, Swaziland faces poor harvest years, decreasing the amount of food that can be produced. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a tool used to improve food security, reported that 32% of the population will experience “high acute food insecurity” within the coming months due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has compounded the food insecurity situation, causing restrictions that disrupt the already limited food supply for Swazi households.

Rise Against Hunger

Humanitarian assistance programs have been a huge support system for the lack of food supplies in Swaziland during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rise Against Hunger is a movement that mobilizes resources to improve poverty and create solutions for hunger in Swaziland. This movement provides life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable, Swaziland being one of the most vulnerable countries. Rise Against Hunger now partners with Salesian Missions, a humanitarian organization that gives hope to millions of youth globally, to provide food and aid to those living in poverty in Swaziland. Together, these organizations provide meals for the hungry. Beginning in 2011, this partnership has been successful, providing food and life-saving aid to malnourished individuals in Swaziland.

USAID Food Relief

As the Swaziland government struggles to deliver aid and food relief, USAID has partnered with World Vision to provide emergency food assistance. USAID is making an effort to reach 45,000 food insecure people in Swaziland by providing monthly food rations. These food rations include cornmeal and beans and vegetable oil.  Not only are USAID and World Vision providing food rations to decrease the percentage of hunger in Swaziland, but they are also working to increase the agricultural production of families that need assistance in recovering from previous droughts. With USAID stepping in to provide as much relief as possible, these efforts will produce longer-term resilience.

Hunger in Swaziland has caused many to succumb to hunger at a faster rate since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, making hunger a widespread issue. Organizations and charities are working together to provide the necessary aid essential to eradicate hunger in Swaziland.

Kendra Anderson
Photo: Flickr

Aid to AfghanistanThe period of 2018 to 2020 brought with it a series of difficulties for the people of Afghanistan, including droughts, floods and pandemics. A severe drought in 2018 impacted 95% of the country’s farmland and dried up crucial water sources. More than 250,000 people were displaced and at least 1.4 million civilians required emergency aid. Following the drought, 2019 had the opposite occurrence: heavy rainfall activated widespread flooding in nine provinces, impacting more than 112,000 people. These crises continue to be felt in 2020 as both old and new challenges exacerbate conditions for the poorest Afghans. Countries all over the world are pledging to provide aid to Afghanistan.

Conditions Affecting Afghanistan

  • COVID-19: In November 2020, Afghanistan documented 44,133 coronavirus cases and 1,650 fatalities. The socio-economic impacts have been extensive. Average household debt rose by 36,486 AFS (US$474) and the poverty level increased from 54% to 70%. According to the World Bank, Afghanistan’s economy is predicted to contract by at least 5.5% due to the 2020 impact of COVID-19.
  • Displacement: Nearly 286,000 Afghans at home and 678,000 abroad suffered displacement in 2020, bringing the total displaced to approximately four million. Internal displacement camps are rife with insanitation, poor healthcare, unemployment, limited potable water and food insecurity. According to estimations by the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview, one million displaced people will require aid by the end of 2020.
  • Political Uncertainty: Political instability has been a mainstay in Afghanistan for decades and continues to trouble both citizens and the international community. Despite ongoing 2020 peace negotiations with the Taliban, fighting continues in the region. As a result, desperately needed health clinics have suffered closures and 35,000 Afghans were displaced from the Helmand Province in October 2020 alone.
  • Women’s Rights: Conditions for Afghan women and children have improved in recent years, allowing 3.3 million girls to receive an education. Additionally, women have experienced expanding opportunities for political, economic and social engagement. However, government participation is still strictly limited and women are still at high risk of violence.
  • Food insecurity: Afghan farmers still had not fully recovered from the 2018 drought and 2019 flood before the impact of COVID-19 on the country raised food prices, and with it, further food insecurity. Estimates warn that one-third of the population have already exhausted their savings and are in crisis levels of food security, with 5.5 million of them in emergency levels. However, farmers are hopeful that improved climate conditions will alleviate some of the damage done in previous years of difficulties.

2020 Afghanistan Conference

International donations fund at least half of Afghanistan’s annual budget. This is unlikely to change anytime soon, especially as COVID-19’s toll on the country’s economy also decreases government revenues. There was concern that the 2020 Conference would see a diminished aid pledge from Afghanistan’s largest donors, but the meetings that took place on November 24 secured a minimum of US$3.3 billion annually for four years contingent upon a review of Afghanistan’s progress in areas of peace, political development, human rights and poverty reduction. The United States is one such donor, pledging $300 million for 2021 and promising another $300 million worth of aid to Afghanistan if the ongoing peace talks prove successful. To this end, the “Afghanistan Partnership Framework” details the principles and goals of Afghanistan’s growth in peace-building, state-building and market-building.

Rebuilding Afghanistan

While some have expressed concern that the donations for aid to Afghanistan are not enough to cover costs and that the contingency requirements will be very difficult for Afghanistan to implement without compromises, there nevertheless is hope that tighter restrictions will prevent fewer funds from being lost to corruption. Despite the future challenges ahead of Afghanistan, Afghan leaders reiterated their commitment to “finding a political settlement that can not only bring an end to the suffering of the Afghan people but strengthen, safeguard and preserve the gains of the past 19 years.”

– Andria Pressel
Photo: Flickr

Lentil as AnythingRecently, The Borgen Project spoke with Emilie Elzvik. She is a 21-year-old student at Northeastern University and former volunteer at Lentil as Anything. Elzvik never imagined herself serving gourmet vegan meals to a table filled with backpackers, refugees and homeless people in Newtown, Australia. But Lentil as Anything changed everything for her.

The Company

Lentil as Anything embodies a rare business model. The menu does not have any set prices. Everyone is welcome to “pay as they feel,” either through a financial donation or volunteering their skills. The founder, Shanaka Fernando, was born in Sri Lanka before becoming a restauranteur and world traveler. In 2000, Fernando began the first Lentil as Anything in St. Kilda to provide a space for local communities to come together and share a meal “disregarding any existing economic and social barriers.”

At the time, Fernando’s concept was a wild idea. Twenty years later, and it has become a booming success. The restaurant chain now claims four restaurants around Australia. Additionally, Lentil as Anything provides over 1000 free meals a week to those people most in need.

Elzvik’s Story

Elzvik began working for Lentil as Anything when she was studying abroad for a semester. “It’s like every hippie’s dream cafe, except customers are not just wealthy teenagers. They are from various socio-economic backgrounds. Some live on the street outside. Some are just traveling through.”

Elzvik points out that many of the volunteers were once customers themselves. “When they can’t pay, they offer their time,” said Elzvik. Lentil as Anything provides just as many employment opportunities as they do meals. Elzvik comments, “I think many people come to volunteer because it gives them a sense of purpose.”

According to Elzvik, there is no such thing as a boring day at Lentil as Anything. “It is no gloomy soup kitchen,” she states. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon waft through the kitchen. Volunteers twist lemons and grate ginger. Servers dance around the floor, jotting orders down on their notepad. It is always noisy inside; laughter bounces across the walls. On some late nights, there is yoga or an open-mic night in the upstairs space.

So how exactly does this seemingly utopian cafe operate?

Sustainable Food Sourcing

Elvzik recalls that the kitchen being full of “bruised apples” and “funky looking eggplants” that would get thrown out by most restaurants or stores. “Lentil as Anything takes them and turns them into something beautiful,” says Elzvik.

The Department of Agriculture in Australia reports that food waste costs the economy around $20 billion each year. That amounts to about 300kg per person or one in five bags of groceries.

To stock their kitchen, Lentil as Anything takes in the unwanted leftovers from nearby stores. The chain stands by it’s all-vegan menu. The diet is both inclusive and nutrient rich. Elzvik mentions that many visitors would not be able to afford something as “dense and hearty” as a Lentil as Anything meal. Fast food is typically the most affordable option and Lentil as Anything aims to change that.

Volunteership

The restaurant relies heavily on volunteer servers and cooks, like Elzvik.  CNBC reports that around 60% of new restaurants fail within the first year. By a restaurant’s fifth year, that rate jumps
to 80%.

Lentil as Anything is not an exception. The restaurant can’t stay afloat on its own. The Daily Telegraph reports that “it costs Lentil as Anything up to $23,000 a week to keep their doors open – and customer contributions do not come close to covering costs.”

Before coming to Lentil as Anything, Elzvik had no prior customer service experience. She says that volunteering at the restaurant requires no experience at all. Volunteers attend an orientation and receive the necessary training. “What you learn at Lentil can be applied to any future job, especially working with people in a busy environment,” states Elzvik.

Location Matters

Restaurants like Lentil as Anything might not work anywhere. “You need the perfect equilibrium,” claims Elzvik. She explains that in order for this business model to work there has to be enough people donating above the requirement to cover those who cannot afford it.

One of Lentil as Anything’s strategic locations is Newton in Sydney. Newtown is a diverse neighborhood, socially and economically. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that 67% of the Newtown population works full time, 24% part-time and only about 10% identify as unemployed for away from work.

Looking forward

Like many businesses, the pandemic hit Lentil as Anything deeply. On September 25, the restaurant reached out to their social media followers and asked for help to keep Lentil alive.

Lentil as Anything is facing its most significant financial challenge to date. The restaurant is working to raise $300,000 by the end of October. If they don’t reach their goal, they may face closing their doors forever. Donations can be made through their GoFundMe campaign.

The restaurant’s motto is that everyone deserves a seat at the table. Hopefully, Lentil as Anything can serve as a successful business model for many restaurants around the world to address food insecurities.

Miska Salemann
Photo: Unsplash

Snack Against Hunger and PovertyPeople can often feel hopeless nowadays when addressing global poverty and hunger on a personal level. One can only donate so many times before it feels pointless. For decades there was a decrease in poverty and hunger all around the world. However, with the pandemic in full force, the numbers are once again increasing.

So what should can each individual consumer do to help those in need and bring these statistics down? They must change daily patterns, so nearly all of their “normal” actions start benefitting someone else. One way is to switch up the food consumers eat. Many brands in a variety of food categories use their profits to fight global poverty and hunger. Switching to one of these brands allows people to effectively snack against hunger and poverty. Below are just a few of the brands aiding in poverty and hunger-reduction.

1. Bobo’s

Bobo’s donates their profits from selling oat-based products to eight organizations. Two of the organizations focus on food security in the U.S. (Community Food Share and Conscious Alliance), and one nonprofit provides housing for low-income families (Habitat for Humanity). Get in a dose of nutritious oats to snack against hunger and poverty.

2. This Saves Lives

This Saves Lives has something for everyone. They have 10 different flavor options, a variety of kid’s options and five types of crispy treats. For each purchase, This Saves Lives provides a calorie-dense packet of paste filled with nutrients to a child in need. So far, over 24 million packets have been sent out!

3. Barnana

Barnana is a company that produces plantain-based chips in normal chip form, tortilla style and flavor bites. All consumers can find a chip that will satisfy whether that’s salty or sweet. The plantains used for the chips are upcycled from those that were deemed not perfect enough for mainstream market standards. By upcycling the produce, Barnana fights food waste and secures extra income for small scale farmers that depend on every sale.

4. Project 7

Project 7 is a healthy candy brand that makes gummies, lollipops and everything in between. They partner with nonprofits to help the seven areas of need: healing, saving, housing, food, drink, teaching and hope. Make chewing a life-giving activity and snack against hunger and poverty.

5. Beanfields

Beanfields is another company that creates chips both sweet and salty, similar to Barnana. The company — centered in a kitchen and not a boardroom — cooks up a variety of bean-based tortilla chips and cracklings. They get creative by producing an environment-conscious snack while also supporting people in need. Beanfields partners with Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps ex-gang members find peace and stability in their new lives. Homeboy Industries partners with many nonprofits fighting hunger and poverty that provide ex-offenders jobs and a sense of community.

Buying snacks and snacking are often mindless activities. Helping people should have that same ease and it does. Yet, it often falls on the back burner and gets forgotten. Buying from companies donating to those in need is one easy solution. People can enjoy their favorite foods in a more effective way. Why just snack when one can snack against hunger and poverty?

Anna Synakh
Photo: Flickr

Productive Safety Net ProgramAccess to safe and adequate food is a basic human right under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, food insecurity has been a persistent issue around the world for decades. One key country that has suffered from high rates of food-insecurity is Ethiopia, with around 32 million people living in a state of hunger or malnourishment. However, in 2005, the Ethiopian Government implemented a new way to help meet the needs of vulnerable households through the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).

Food Insecurity and its Effects on Health

Food security is a vital aspect of health and well-being. The main causes of food insecurity can be attributed to many influences such as low rates of agricultural production, shortage of water and poor sanitation, climate change and natural disasters, among a plethora of other factors.

Furthermore, food insecurity can have significant consequences on communities both in economic terms and in the effect of the physical health of individual members of the community. Research has shown that food insecurity is associated with increased health risks such as cognitive development problems in children, general malnutrition, higher incidents of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and many other ailments.

The Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP)

As rates of food insecurity grew across sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Government created the PSNP in 2005 in order to provide a more productive and systematic approach to aid vulnerable populations. As explained by the World Bank report on the program, “The PSNP incorporates a number of interesting features, such as public works activities geared towards improving climate resiliency; a risk financing facility to help poor households and communities to better cope with transitory shocks and the use of targeting methods that assist the most climate-vulnerable community members to obtain the full benefits of consumption smoothing and asset protection.”

Results and Impacts of the Program

The Ethiopian Government faced many challenges in implementing this program, such as difficulties in balancing female participation in public work programs and household responsibilities. However, PSNP has shown a positive impact on Ethiopia’s food-insecurity rates and therefore further expanded efforts from 2010 to 2014 with improved strategies and implementation tactics.

As a result of these efforts, the PSNP is credited with the reduction of poverty rates in Ethiopia by two percentage points as of 2014. Furthermore, the program successfully benefited more than one million participants as well as their families. Research shows that the program improved both food security rates and led to a reduced number of months households went without sufficient food. Not only did the program positively affect food insecurity rates throughout Ethiopia, but the PSNP also aided in the improvement of the general health and well-being of many individuals.

The Promise of PSNP for the Future

As recognized around the world, Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program has been widely successful in aiding the country’s impoverished population and improving Ethiopia’s food security rates. Because this program targets food insecurity through agricultural aid, financial aid and structural aid, these strategies have helped to create a strong foundation for these vulnerable populations. Although this program has encountered obstacles in its execution, the PSNP continues to show promise in combatting extreme poverty and food insecurity throughout Ethiopia.

– Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in MexicoMexico struggles with multiple food-related health issues that range from malnutrition to obesity. Many families do not have access to the proper nutrients that their bodies need. However, this is not because of a lack of resources but rather because they cannot afford the food that is available. Approximately 7% of Mexico’s population survives on less than $2 a day, making it difficult to afford nutritious food. This makes hunger in Mexico a huge problem for the country since many simply cannot afford to meet their basic needs.

National Crusade Against Hunger

In January 2013, President Peña Nieto created the National Crusade Against Hunger (CNCH). President Nieto designed the program to not only fight poverty and hunger in Mexico but completely eradicate it. He centered the program around five main objectives. The five objectives were to achieve zero hunger through adequate food provisions, improve child nutrition rates, increase monetary income and food production for rural farmers, minimize food loss during transportation and promote internal community awareness. The CNCH allowed Mexicans in local communities to choose what objectives they wanted to focus on. The hope was for the program to address the diverse needs of varying regions.

The Struggle Remains

Unfortunately, Mexico continues to struggle with poverty and hunger. Of the 126 million inhabitants, over 20 million Mexican citizens still do not have access to food. Two years after the CNCH began, Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy observed that CNCH made no substantial progress towards the five listed goals. Additionally, the Federal Auditor’s Office found that the program only covered approximately 60% of the population. Moreover, those that the program did cover failed to report adequate data on the aid received. After advising that the program be shut down in 2018, the Federal Auditor’s Office labeled CNCH a failure.

Other Solutions

What has been done to improve poverty rates and hunger in Mexico since then? The Hunger Project (THP) has been a long-time supporter of the cause, having worked with the people of Mexico for over 30 years. By providing training, education and monetary support, THP aims to teach communities how to take care of themselves long-term.

In addition, food banks in the Mexican cities of Monterrey and Torreon also received grants from The Global FoodBanking Network in 2017. With this money, the Monterrey Food Bank was able to afford new equipment to store, process and sort fresh produce. Similarly, the Torreon Food Bank was able to purchase a large refrigerated truck, allowing for the transportation and protection of perishable food. Both food banks have since partnered with several companies and universities in order to help expand programs in order to assist more people.

The failure of a program such as CNCH can be disheartening. Even so, there are still many people and organizations that are actively working to make a difference. Hunger in Mexico is still a large problem but Mexico has immense potential to improve the situation. With the help of foreign aid, NGOs and a commitment from the Mexican government, hunger in Mexico can be alleviated.

Nicolette Schneiderman
Photo: Flickr

Youth Hunger in the PhilippinesHunger in the Philippines is a rampant issue. Food insecurity affects 64.1% of total Filipino households. Further, an estimated 5.2 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger, hunger due to lack of food to eat, at least once in the past three months. One issue in particular is the increasing rate of youth hunger in the Philippines. Two in every 10 (19.1 %) Filipino children aged 0-59 months old are underweight. Additionally, three in every 10 (30.3%) of children the same age are stunted in growth. All of this is due to food insecurity. Due to these numbers, many organizations have stepped up to reduce youth hunger in the Philippines. Here are two organizations included in this fight against food insecurity in the Philippines.

Youth Hunger in the Philippines

One of the organizations making a tangible impact on youth hunger in the Philippines is Destiny Ministries International. One of its pastors, Ariel Tenorios, based in the City of Calamba, Laguna, has spearheaded a campaign to feed homeless youth on the streets. He also raises money to give aid packages to these malnourished children. His work has spread throughout the provinces to the General Santos City/Mindanao areas. Tenorios has helped children during the COVID-19 pandemic by provisioning meals to college-aged students and families struggling with food insecurity. To distribute these resources, his team goes from family to family in the poorer areas and gives out bags of food to those in need.

Another way in which Destiny Ministry International helps youth hunger in the Philippines is through social media. So far, the organization has been able to help hundreds of children and families struggling on the streets. One big issue during this time is mental health, with a lot of the youth on the streets struggling with anxiety and depression. Through its work, the organization has helped rehabilitate those in need. For example, it can help people work through suicidal thoughts by providing for their needs.

A Personal Touch

Norita Metcalf knows what is like to help out in these areas. Metcalf was born in the Philippines, living in the province of Cavite from birth to the age of 21. While she currently lives in the United States, she still works with various churches and organizations that focus on youth homelessness and food insecurity in the Philippines. Metcalf takes frequent trips back to the Philippines to help in both tangible and remote ways.

On her most recent trip to the Philippines, aiding Destiny Ministries International, she saw another level of poverty. She described cardboard houses, multiple stories high, that people made to give families some form of a roof above their heads, even if it is as thin as cardboard. This showed Metcalf a new level of poverty than what she personally experienced as a child in the Philippines. While there, she helped fundraise and pass out food to address this problem.

Destiny Ministries International

However, the work of Destiny Ministries International has helped make a tangible difference. Metcalf describes the ways in which people struggled not only with food insecurity but also mental health issues resulting from malnourishment and poverty. The provision of funds and food go a long way for these people. Many college-aged youths on the streets told Metcalf about the feeling of hopelessness associated with the lack of food. Even a small glimmer of hope resulted in the subsiding of suicidal thoughts and depression, thanks to the aid of Destiny Ministries International. Overall, its work has helped hundreds and reduced food insecurity for families struggling during the pandemic.

Children International

Another organization that has aided with youth hunger in the Philippines is Children International. This organization has sponsored over 43,000 kids and 14 community members for over 37 years. It helps tackle malnutrition through screening every child and identifying those who need intervention. Additionally, monitored supplemental feeding in community centers help these children regain their strength and correct their weight-height ratio. Children International also aids parents through nutrition classes that teach about healthy meals on limited budgets, so that children will not remain malnourished.

Through its community centers, such as the Kaligayahan Center (meaning “happiness” in Tagalog), the organization serves thousands of children in different areas. In this center alone, it provides medical and nutritional services to more than 5,100 children. The work that this organization does therefore helps to combat youth hunger in the Philippines. As a result, it helps stop the early deaths and malnutrition that Filipino youths often suffer through due to malnutrition.

Looking Forward

These two organizations demonstrate two different ways to fight impoverished conditions and youth hunger in the Philippines. The stark statistics on how many are affected show that stepping up to the challenge is a necessary step toward change. However, the fight is not done with just these two organizations. As demonstrated by Metcalf’s story, food insecurity is a serious issue that needs a coordinated response in the Philippines.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Flickr

Twiga Foods
COVID-19 has caused many issues for poor families around the world. However, Kenyan food distributor Twiga Foods is helping families during COVID-19.

What is Twiga Foods?

Twiga Foods emerged in 2014 as a mobile-based food distribution company. What it does is source produce from local farmers and manufacturers. Suppliers can post their produce online so vendors can order it at an affordable price. Today, Twiga employs about 4,000 suppliers and about 35,000 vendors.

Fast Company has listed Twiga Foods as one of the most innovative companies. Twiga Foods was also listed as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers.” The company has “reinvented Africa’s approach to retail, making it less time-consuming and more efficient.” The company “presents a convenient and reliable alternative to the current expensive farm and factory-to-market processes.”

The mission for Twiga Foods is simple: “to feed and supply Africa’s growing urban population with traceable, quality and affordable products whose quality, health and safety standards are at one with global conventions and best practice.”

What Twiga is Doing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 created a lot of concern for Twiga Foods. Some of its clients include hotels and restaurants which have run minimally during the pandemic. However, Twiga was listed as an essential business, and the company was able to keep operating and employ thousands of people.

In June 2020, Twiga partnered up with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Jumia to support families during the pandemic. The program these companies created offers a “convenient way for customers who wish to donate during the pandemic period.” Twiga Foods is providing discounted prices of fresh produce up to 50% as an incentive for people to donate to the cause.

How Companies like Twiga Foods Can Help the Market

The success of Twiga Foods matches Kenya’s growing economy and reduction of poverty. Kenya’s GDP went from $61.45 billion in 2014 to $95.5 billion in 2019. However, Kenya’s GDP in 2020 has gone down to about $80 billion.

Not only has the GDP risen over the past few years, but poverty rates in Kenya have gone down. From 2005 to 2006, 46.8% of Kenyans lived below the poverty line. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of Kenyans living under the poverty line dropped to 36.1%. This drop in the poverty rate was due to the increasing importance of non-agricultural income to supplement agricultural income for rural households.

Between 2013 and 2017, about 25% of the nation’s GDP came from agriculture. However, farmers across Kenya find it hard to make a living due to the insufficiency of the African agricultural market. Having companies like Twiga Foods support these farmers can help improve food safety, environmental and social practices.

When Twiga Foods connects rural farmers to informal retail vendors in the cities, it can enhance the agricultural market for both the suppliers and the consumers. Farmers can have guaranteed access to a fairly-priced, transparent and mobile marketplace. Vendors can get high-quality and fresh produce to sell to consumers at a lower price. Having food sold at a lower price is a way that Twiga foods is helping families afford the food they need to survive.

Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr