When the pandemic hit in 2020 strict lockdown regulations left countless families in Collique, a sprawling collection of underserved communities on the outskirts of Lima, deprived of the meagre income required to even put food on the table. In the face of the crisis an army of mothers across Collique organized emergency soup kitchens intended to provide at least one nutritious meal a day for their families and neighbors. At Operación San Andrés (OSA) we were trying to work out how we could help the pandemic hit community we call our home and concluded that the best and most efficient way was to join forces with these community run soup kitchens. And so, back in mid-2020, we began what we thought would be a six-month emergency relief program delivering non-perishable foodstuffs to around 20 soup kitchens. Little did we know that three years later, with the need far from abating, we would be providing monthly supplies to around 60 soup kitchens that serve around 3,000 meals a day to some of the neediest families in Collique.
Delivering food is good and necessary but it’s not a long-term solution. What else could we do? We don’t have all the answers, but … what about producing food rather than just delivering it? The sprawling desert foothills of the Andes where Collique is located hardly seems a promising location for producing food but, undaunted, we started to explore possibilities. The outcome? A partnership with one of teh communities we serve, Los Jazmines, to establish a pilot project in hydroponics, a method of growing vegetables requiring minimal amounts of water and selected nutrients. The deal is that the community provides the land and the volunteers to run the project and OSA secures the equipment and provides the training required to set up the project. We will also, in the initial stage, guarantee the purchase of the vegetables produced to then distribute to the soup kitchens we serve. The income generated will, in turn, be used by the community of Los Jazmines to improve the nutritional content of the meals they make at their soup kitchen. Terrific initial results are evident from the photos below!
As we help the good folks of Los Jazmines grow their lettuces and spring onions we do so, hand in hand, with sharing the good news of the gospel with the kids at a weekly Saturday morning Bible Club. Food for body and soul. We’re sure Jesus would approve!