WORLD FOOD DAY: Salesian Missions highlights feeding programs that ensure youth and their families have access to the nutrition they need to survive and thrive
Feeding programs in Brazil, East Timor, South Africa and Zambia illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe that support this year’s theme, which is focused on #FoodHeroes.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 16, 2020) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins the international community and organizations around the globe in honoring World Food Day. Celebrated each year on Oct. 16, the day was established to bring attention to the plight of the world’s hungry and undernourished while providing an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the complex solutions for ending hunger. It is also a chance for the international community to show its commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 2, to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
This year’s theme, “#FoodHeroes,” focuses on the important role played by governments, farmers, businesses and the general public, along with the challenges they face and the digital innovations that are helping them and the food systems to perform better. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. The global population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.
Nearly 690 million people are hungry. This is up 10 million people since 2019. FAO reports the COVID-19 pandemic could add between 83-132 million people to this number, depending on the economic growth scenario.
Salesian Missions operates feeding programs in its schools and centers made possible by partnerships with organizations like Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization that provides food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable. Salesian Missions identifies needs and coordinates delivery of 40-foot shipping containers full of meals and supplemented with additional supplies when available.
“Salesian Missions programs are dedicated to providing feeding programs to ensure that youth have a nutritious and healthy diet,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “During the pandemic, Salesian missionaries, staff and volunteers have worked in countries around the globe to ensure that children out of school, families who have lost income, migrant workers and those living in extreme poverty often on the fringes of society have enough to eat. From providing hot meals to food kits, Salesian programs are working on the front lines helping to feed those most in need.”
This World Food Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight feeding initiatives in schools and programs around the globe.
The Salesian Network, in collaboration with partners, has provided 460 youth and their families with food assistance in the city of Manaus on the banks of the Negro River in northwestern Brazil. Families in need were tracked and identified through an app. More than 800 baskets of food were delivered, with deliveries observing the guidelines for coronavirus prevention provided by the World Health Organization.
Relief work is happening across Brazil. The Mamma Margarita Salesian Youth Center, located in the municipality of Niterói in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, has also been helping needy families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic by distributing food and hygiene products. The youth center launched a Salesian Solidarity Campaign, which has supported these efforts for four months. Since the start of the pandemic, many businesses, companies and shops have had to suspend their work. This included the Salesian Youth Center.
According to the Salesian Social Communication Office, many children who live in the areas surrounding the Salesian Youth Center were being fed at the youth center before the pandemic because their families did not have enough money for food. It was critical that funds were utilized to continue to feed these children during the lockdown period.
More than 1,200 youth attending Salesian schools and youth centers in East Timor had better nutrition thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger. The shipment, which arrived in the last quarter of 2019, provided donated rice-meals to ensure students had a healthy meal during the school day.
Don Bosco Technical School Fatumaca, Don Bosco Technical High School Maliana, Don Bosco Training Center of Comoro, Don Bosco Laga Youth Center, Don Bosco Youth Center Baucau and Don Bosco Lospalos Orphanage were all recipients of the donation.
“Hungry students have trouble focusing on their studies and learning,” said Fr. Baek. “Proper nutrition is needed to fully take part in classroom and in-field training. Prepared students are more likely to learn valuable skills that will help them gain employment and break the cycle of poverty in their lives while enabling them to give back to their communities.”
Salesian missionaries, with the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Johannesburg, South Africa, were able to provide food support to Salesian sites in Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho and South Africa thanks to funding from Salesian Missions. The project is part of COVID-19 relief efforts in these countries.
All Salesian sites that have received the donation have distributed the first food packages to youth and families in need and are now preparing for the second distribution in the coming weeks. The feedback Salesians are receiving from people benefiting from the donation is very positive.
Further funding from Don Bosco Mondo in Germany will allow Salesian missionaries to continue with this project for the most vulnerable for an extended period of time. The funding also has provided the opportunity to begin production of masks, which will be added to some of the food packages.
Mary Help of Christians in Kasama, Zambia, was able to provide meals to youth in need thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” The rice-meal donation was provided and distributed to the Sisters of the Child Jesus who are working in health centers and have communities with orphans, children who are blind and people who are albino. The donation was also shared with youth and children who come to the Mary Help of Christians oratory and parish.
The food arrived in May and become a lifeline in the face of the pandemic. Sister Godelieve, who works in Kasama, said, “The rice is the manna that we have waited for to help people. It’s normal for us to see poor children in need of nutrition but with the pandemic, many people are struggling.”
Sr. Godelieve added, “As a community we have many people coming to our door to beg for food. The rice is a solution for us. It allows us to help the poor who knock at our door. We give rice to our workers. It helps them to nourish their children. During the pandemic, most of people have found themselves without work. Therefore, when they receive rice, they can at least have a meal in a day.”
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