Community soup kitchens are places in which children and/or their families receive food, education and social care. Many soup kitchens in Buenos Aires appeared after 2001 economic crisis, as a result of the neighbors efforts to assist those children and families in poverty conditions or out of work after the crisis.
Many of these soup kitchens are created by the neighbors who gather with the purpose of obtaining necessary donations to feed most needy children and families.
Municipalities help with monthly donations of foods, such as: flour, maté, sugar, powdered milk, etc., whereas fresh foods, such as: cheese, meat, fruit, or vegetables are donated or bought by neighbors.
People who work at soup kitchens were not previously trained, they just have the experience of their own homes. Therefore, not all of these centers have the necessary and/or trained staff to work at them. Considering this situation, the whole community feel the necessity to learn and be trained in issues about foods, becoming familiar with preparations, which of them are richer in nutrients, which the best foods combination is, their preserving and hygiene way, children health care, growth and development; all of these are necessary issues to handle and carry out every day work in children’s education and feeding.
Aims and strategies formulation
Improve knowledge on eating habits of collaborators and those people responsible for soup kitchens.
Strengthen and optimize participants capacity and experience in their every day work.
Re-appreciate the role of those people responsible for soup kitchens as nutrition promoters.
Create responsibility awareness in people working at soup kitchens of their role being in charge of children correct feeding.
Nutritional feeding education to those people responsible for community soup kitchens in Great Buenos Aires.
Financial resources required for this project were invested in wages for trainers responsible for each group, bibliographic research, Internet access, educational material development, three-page leaflet and posters design and printing, mobile telephony, the organization and transportation of materials and trainers to different places for training.
During preliminary training process a comprehensive visit through different neighborhoods and soup kitchens of the area was made. Besides, a research was carried out in those whose training is aimed at in order to prove if the feeding education implementation is necessary.
Then, specific educational issues were developed as from those shortages found at every day work practices in people responsible for cooking.
During the first training meeting, most of the time was aimed at knowing the workshop participants of different soup kitchens, among them and with the trainer. The reason, aims and the people responsible for the training was detailed to them, since a correct aims training introduction and explanation will trigger a better job throughout the following meetings.
The active participants got to know each other and shared experiences among them, as well as they had the possibility to meet women from the same neighborhood and even from neighbor soup kitchens, all of which, up to this moment, has not been reached.
Results may be classified into: those reflected in the attendance, participation during the meetings, participants commitment, etc.; and those reflected in soup kitchens’ optimistic growth signs, as regards service rendering in every day work: a better quality diet, hygiene and education for those children who go to them, as well as improvements for their families.
Each soup kitchen that attended this training, not only could keep the educational material to work with children at different places once the workshop is ended, but also gained knowledge and experiences from other soup kitchens.
One of the results achieved after training implementation was to develop group work awareness among different soup kitchens from the same neighborhood, networks formation in order to obtain food, donations, recipes and even opinions and advices exchange among them.
The education of women responsible for community soup kitchens not only succeeds in improving their every day work and becoming aware of the huge responsibility they daily have when giving a meal at these places, but also in acquiring the necessary knowledge to select adequate food as regards quality and quantity, to teach the importance of sharing a meal and foods, of responsibility, care, affection, stimulation, individual care, and many other values so that children who go to the soup kitchen not only go for a meal but also for growing and developing as human beings, even in very unfavorable socioeconomic environments.
At the same time, community soup kitchens are families meeting places: mothers and their children sharing a meal, although it is not in their own home, accompanying their kids to make homework, with professional support and health assistance for improving life quality conditions.
The integration of these people, considering soup kitchens as children education, care and development places, allows their social inclusion and the possibility to grow in better conditions
People responsible for soup kitchens, who the training is aimed at, not only had the possibility to reconsidered their jobs as food providers, but also understood the responsibility they have in children’s growth and health.
Issues were prepared in connection with the work and the resources use carried out at soup kitchens, and were particularly aimed at people responsible for planning and preparing every day meals at them.
The following are the issues dealt with:
Healthy diet at different stages of life
Growth and development, emphasizing the importance of a correct diet before and after pregnancy.
Food hygiene and safety, food preserving, individual and environmental safety
Responsible purchase for the community and family. Tips on how to buy and what to look at.
Training is possible in any community soup kitchen, feeding and nutritional education is very similar at any socioeconomic level, hygiene and safety guidelines are similar at any context, but the importance of making a previous diagnosis about feeding and nutritional situation, soup kitchens assistance, donations, beneficiaries, etc. does not have to be left aside.
The investigation previous to any intervention is essential in order to achieve success with the program.
Issues to be dealt with may be modified pursuant to population characteristics, socioeconomic level, country geographic region, population sociocultural level and education, etc.
Education, knowledge transmission from a health professional to a person who works daily with soup kitchens, achieves a perfect articulation, since the theory is complemented by every day practice and experience of these women. This is the perfect combination to succeed: in this case, feeding and education of thousands of children who do not have this benefit.