Community Kitchens Around the World
Around the world, 828 million people suffer from hunger and lack of nutritious food. The size of this issue requires multiple cooperative solutions and one of them is community kitchens. Community kitchens are similar to soup kitchens in that they give out free food to hungry people, but they elevate this idea by being a space for people to work, learn and build comradeship. Small community kitchens are popping up across many nations across the globe and despite their size, these spaces are bringing a big change.
India is one of the many countries that saw community kitchens continuously popping up during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. During this time, these kitchens played a pivotal role in supporting hungry families and became communal staples that people continue to rely on today. The state of Jharkhand saw the most growth in this kind of organization with 2,500 women working across all its districts.
In India, the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) provides funding for these groups. Through the government and the hard work of these women, the kitchens provide meals directly to citizens’ doorsteps and help support the communal trust in the government. They also have “low-cost kitchens” where they sell food for a very low cost which helps support hungry citizens. Across India, these kitchens are providing not only food but opportunity as well.
U.N. Women along with the Government of Finland have been supporting women-ran community kitchens in Nepal. The partnership helped set up a total of 10 kitchens in four of Nepal’s provinces, employing 123 women. The women working in these kitchens work from sun up to sun down to ensure meals are ready and easily accessible to those struggling in their communities. Importantly, these women can use the wages they earn to support their own families while learning to be confident in their skills, independence and leadership abilities. Community kitchens in Nepal have been able to reach those who are most typically disadvantaged like women, migrants, refugees, people with disabilities and pregnant women. They have played a key role in restoring and creating stability in many people’s lives during and after the pandemic.
In Lima, the capital of Peru, women have been the sole supporters, funders and workers for these community kitchens since as early as the 1970s. In these kitchens, since they are not government funded, the women who devote their time to them are the ones who provide the cooking supplies, the kitchen space and the food. The women in these communities have established communal agreements that only they can run these kitchens, democratically, not for profit but for the betterment of their community. They decided together to pool whatever spare resources they could find and devote them to these kitchens. Through their selfless efforts, these women provide not only meals to the hungry but a safe space for women and children who face abuse at home. The women of Lima’s community kitchens are a shining example of how community effort and human empathy can change the world.
Community kitchens, which are often led by women, have become a powerful force in fighting global hunger while also promoting female empowerment. By providing meals to those in need, these kitchens contribute to the health and well-being of communities around the world. In addition, they offer an opportunity for women to be empowered and take initiative in their own lives as they lead these programs and gain skills that can help them achieve financial independence.
– Alexandra Curry