COVID-19 in Brazil
COVID-19 devastated Brazil. The country lost 600,000 lives to the pandemic. In addition, COVID-19 in Brazil has had significant adverse effects on the economy. With few to no opportunities for work and businesses thrust into bankruptcy, Brazil’s population’s quality of life has also greatly diminished. For example, COVID-19 in Brazil thwarted tourism, subsequently affecting its festive, vibrant Carnaval season. In addition, Brazil is also one of the nations with the most significant disparity in both wealth and class, and COVID-19 in Brazil exasperated those gaps. With COVID-19 bringing such monumental difficulties to Brazil, the prospect of Brazil’s financial stability post COVID seems slim. However, one man’s organization seeks to alleviate some of the hunger-based sufferings from COVID-19 in Brazil.

COVID-19’s Effect on Poverty and Hunger in Brazil

COVID-19 in Brazil has had an undeniably terrible impact on the families living in poverty.  The country had been in a recession since 2014 and had not recovered when COVID-19 hit. That is part of the reason why in 2020, food insecurity threatened approximately 117 million citizens, more than half of the country’s population. That was an increase from 85 million in 2018. That is why the Brazilian government introduced emergency programs to keep families afloat. However, when payments reduced in 2021, even more people started to go hungry. In fact, about 19 million Brazilians have gone hungry in 2021 compared to 10 million in 2018. Brazil’s COVID-induced food insecurity and hunger prompted David Hertz to launch the Gastromotiva Solidarity Kitchen Program.

The Development of Gastromotiva

Local leaders, microentrepreneurs and cooks operate the Gastromotiva Solidarity Kitchens. Community kitchens distribute meals to individuals and families at risk for food insecurity. However, the Gastromotiva Solidarity Kitchen Program does more than just build kitchens and donate food. First, Gastromotiva provides a monthly income to Solidarity Kitchen employees. It also provides guidance in logistics and menu planning. Third, Gastromotiva runs Social Cooking,”  a course that teaches employees how to create businesses, projects and initiatives with social impact. In other words, not only is Gastromotiva providing direct hunger relief, but it also seeks to create more long-term opportunities for financial stability.

Solidarity Kitchen Success

Since launching in 2020, Gastromotiva has opened more than 70 Solidatarity Kitchens in key communities including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Manaus. The Solidarity Kitchens provide more than 70,000 meals each month. Often, recipients get their only meal each day at a Solidarity Kitchen. As Hertz comments, “Right now half the population in Brazil doesn’t know if they are going to have lunch or dinner. That’s the size of the problem. We are not only feeding those people once a day, we are providing nutrition with dignity that is deserved.”

Post-Pandemic Outlook

Although Hertz created the Gatromotivia Solidarity Kitchen Program as a response to COVID-19 in Brazil, he hopes to continue the program beyond the pandemic. He is developing a new, self-sustaining version of the Solidarity Kitchen, and ultimately, Hertz envisions 1,000 Solidarity Kitchens across Brazil.

– Maia Nuñez
Photo: Flickr