While I got back to the states on February 17, I have been so busy preparing for Hult Prize I never got to finish sharing what I learned while investigating food insecurity in the slums of Lima!
Aside from conducting interviews, as explained in my previous post, I also did research on Peru’s “comedores populares’ – community cafeterias or community kitchens. Comedores Populares began as a response to inflation and rising food prices in Peru during the 1970s, 1980s and have continued ever since. Peru, in fact, is considered a model of woman-organized and run community kitchens – many have focus on education on domestic violence and women’s empowerment in addition to their core mission of alleviating hunger. In Lima alone, community kitchens provide food for half a million people daily. (http://bit.ly/Y8xhrb)
In the neighborhood of Chacon, in Villa Maria Triunfo (VMT), where I did my interviews, I spent an afternoon with Maria, the Vice President of the neighborhood Comedor Popular while she and another volunteer cooked and served meals.
The kitchens are partially subsidized – the government provides rice, vegetable oil, legumes (enough for one meal), and canned tuna to the kitchen. With revenues from meals sold, the kitchen covers the rest of their expenses, the biggest being gas for cooking.Here are some key takeways:
- The kitchen in Chacon serves about 50 meals a day. They usually have two cooks, and the majority of the customers pick up the meals to go.
- Customers love Maria and think she makes clean, healthy and tasty food. However, many admit that many comedores populares are known for being corrupt, unclean and having poor tasting food.
- Customers pay 2 soles for a meal, this is 1/3 the price of the cheapest complete meal offered.