How a renovated kitchen fights malnutrition in the community

Others, Child Poverty

Contributed by: Compassion Canada


Learn more about the gift of Kitchen and Dining Improvements and why it can change a community

Written by: Rebekah Malbrecht


When you have guests in your home, where do they tend to congregate? We wouldn’t be surprised if you said the kitchen. Kitchens have a magnetic pull and become the central gathering place in many homes. It’s not just the irresistible smells that waft from that room that draw people in, but the warm hub of community where people come and go daily to find comfort, sustenance and relationship. It’s where life happens.

It won’t surprise you then that kitchens are incredibly important to Compassion centres around the world. Though it may not be the hub of a child’s personal home, a kitchen represents a home-away-from-home to the kids who attend the Compassion centre.

“I can say that eating is one of the children’s favourite things. When we prepare empanada or pasta with meat, they always want to take another portion. Some of them come to my office to ask for another serving of food. And I always say yes.” –Martha, a Compassion centre director in Colombia

Imagine the delight of the children as the delicious smell of their meal starts filling the Compassion centre as they approach the lunch hour. Volunteer cooks chatter together as they prepare what, for some children, may be the most food they will have during that week. The kids peek in for a glimpse of what’s to come.

Mireya is a volunteer cook at a Compassion centre in Colombia. The relationships kids build with the cooks is special. Mireya says, “Nicol calls me ‘her second mom’ and says that my daughters are her sisters. She knows that I love her very much. I care for Nicol so she will be well-fed and healthy.”

“Malnutrition in children in La Guajira is rampant.”

It’s essential to the holistic development of children. Practically speaking, the Compassion centre kitchen is providing a nourishing meal to children, which is more important than ever amidst the global food crisis. Hungry bellies are filled. But more than that, the kitchen is a part of the ethos of a Compassion centre because it represents comfort, life and relationship to the children we serve. It is a tangible expression of God’s love in the lives of children and the community.

That’s why this year’s Gifts of Compassion gift guide includes the opportunity to help provide kitchen and dining rooms to two Compassion centres in La Guajira, Colombia.

“My favourite food is spaghetti. I also like salty lentil pancakes and love tuna flavour! I feel happy when I receive the food at the centre because it makes me happy to eat.” -Angel, a Compassion child in Colombia

The capacity to provide food to the 290 Compassion kids attending these centres is vital. Although Colombia has reduced the mortality rate for children under five in the last five years, the rate in La Guajira has increased in the same period. Malnutrition in children in La Guajira is rampant. The global food crisis has hit this semi-desertic area particularly hard with lack of food resources, increased costs for food and high poverty rates contributing to its impact on this indigenous community.

Samy Perez is a cook at a Compassion centre in Colombia who loves serving the children of her community.

The gift of Kitchen and Dining Improvements will help these two Compassion centres build community kitchens where meals will be prepared for the 290 children they serve. These kitchens and dining areas will also allow for the Compassion centres’ growth as they will be able to accommodate and serve more children in the community.

Kitchen and dining improvements will:

  • Provide infrastructure to prepare meals for children
  • Mitigate foodborne illnesses through a more hygienic environment
  • Ensure the safety of volunteer cooks and children
  • Include a sanitation plan and potable water system
  • Serve the community as a gathering place

From the direct and indispensable benefit of providing food to hungry children in a community facing the full impact of the, to the social-emotional benefit of providing a secure space for children to receive comfort, life and relationship, the gift of Kitchen and Dining Improvements will have a massive impact in this community, tangibly sharing the love of Jesus.

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