The Cuenca Soup Kitchen continues to grow and to expand its impact. Although providing food assistance in the form of food kits to families is still at the core of what we do, our newest initiative recognizes the importance of being eco-friendly by providing the babies and toddlers in our program with GelWear diapers, a product designed and produced in Ecuador. These diapers are a long-term, eco-friendly, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic solution to disposable diapers.
We also provide donated clothing and housewares. The number that we serve on a regular basis has grown to over 700. By partnering with Hearts of Gold and their social worker, we are able to monitor these families and transition them out of the program as they become stable, thereby making room for the next family that needs our services in order to achieve stability.
Finally, the Cuenca Soup Kitchen has continued to provide assistance in natural disasters. When flash flooding washed away homes and livelihoods in and around Cuenca, Ecuador in May of 2021, we mobilized to provide thousands of pounds of food. This aid continued for weeks as those impacted re-established themselves.
The Cuenca Soup Kitchen is poised to continue to help those in need work towards stability and self-sufficiency
You, our donors and our volunteers, are the life-line of the Cuenca Soup Kitchen. Without your help, many refugees and Ecuadorians would go hungry.
“I’m starving but I don’t have any money for the bus so how do I feed the children?” Change for Change now makes it possible for this family to get to the food they need.
“I have angels everywhere,” says Carmen. After fleeing political violence in Venezuela, your donations helped her and her husband feed their child, clothe their family, and access medical care, while they worked to establish their little family in Cuenca. Thanks to you, they have been successful.
“This food means I can finish high school,” says Karin. She still works selling trash bags on the street but the food means she has time to study so that she can attend university in the future and provide a future for her baby daughter.
On March 12, 2020 the Cuenca Soup Kitchen, like much of the world, was closed down due to COVID. This left the population we serve even more vulnerable. Those who previously had few resources now found themselves with none.
Those who begged in the streets, those who walked here from Venezuela in search of a better life, and the Ecuadorian working poor were all in danger of starvation.
No one was spared in this crisis and in a developing country, the numbers are staggering. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, we served hot meals every weekday and provided access to clothing and other basic items for migrant families and Venezuelan refugees. However, the social distancing requirements of the pandemic has deepened this challenge.
In order to serve as many as possible, the Cuenca Soup Kitchen has partnered with other organizations and uses existing infrastructures to expand our ability to provide food kits for families in and around Cuenca, Ecuador. The families include Ecuadorians and Venezuelans. All are at risk and many have multiple vulnerabilities including disabilities and health concerns. Some are children without familial support.
We partner with Foundations, organizations, and businesses: Hearts of Gold, Nur, Cetap-Lucy, El Arenal, Osso, Tomebamba Rotary, Kolo
Your donations and our partnerships have allowed us to almost quadruple the number of people we serve
Your response to the massive Chunchi landslide helped an entire village get back on its fee
You provided the resources to deliver thousands of seedlings to those with the ability to grow their own food
You supported the Pig Project which provided thousands of pounds of high quality protein to hungry families
Your gifts and donations have made it possible for us to reestablish the clothing program and household goods program, the diaper program, and to establish Change for Change - these funds go towards transportation for outlying families so that they can access the food they so desperately need
The future holds continued challenges:
Ecuador’s vaccination program is not as robust as in many countries, making the continued economic and social impacts a reality for the foreseeable future
Fundraising is directly impacted by the economic and social realities of the COVID crisis - as the need grows, the resources shrink
COVID-19 has not changed our mission, only our method. The Cuenca Soup Kitchen is dedicated to keeping families alive and together. Our goal is to provide a bridge that will connect as many families as possible to a more stable future and with your continued help, we can do that.
This year Bob Higgins, the founder of the Cuenca Soup Kitchen, moved to Paute and turned over the operation to three long-term volunteers: Des Dizney, Bill O’Brien, and Smith. Our plan was to continue the soup kitchen’s mission in 2020.
On March 12th that all changed. Ecuador went into a strict lockdown due to COVID 19. This meant that we could no longer serve meals to those in need.
Since the people could not come to us to be fed, we had to get the food to the people. Our partnership with Hearts of Gold has created and maintained a system that:
The number of families to whom we provide food has grown to 120 (approximately 600 people). This is three times as many people as we were able to help with the old model and we do so for slightly less cost. This is a huge impact.
March 12th also changed our financial picture. The uncertainty in the world impacted our donors as well. For some it meant they needed to reduce or stop their donations.
It is clear that this need will continue for the foreseeable future and that the Cuenca Soup Kitchen, in partnership with Hearts of Gold and our wonderful volunteers, will continue to serve as long as the need is there and funding allows. We depend on continued donations to enable us to do just that.
I hope you are having a great week!
We are honored to write this email and be able to share good news!
Since the pandemic started in March, so many families lost their jobs.
Our everyday services had to stop and we all had to stay at home.
So many thoughts and feelings while we remained at home, we were feeling desperate thinking of our families that used to benefit from our services and seeing the needs of the community grow everyday.
Thanks to you, we are here today,. We have had to readjust to this new reality and joining forces with friend organizations we have been able to offer thousands of survival food kits every week. We currently have 107 families as part of our program.
They feel relieved and safe knowing that hey will have something to feed their children.
We have also been on the streets distributing blankets and clothing, the expressions on childens faces were of relief as we drove around the city of Cuenca on a cold rainy day.
We have revieved thousands of bottles of water dotated from the Club Rotario Tomebamba.
There is so much we have learned the past 6 months, we are so honored to be able to serve our community.
This is project has has been part of the community through one of the hardes times we might remember, and we just want you to know, you have been part of a big positive change, your generous contributions has saved lives and brought many smiles to children and relief to parents.
Thank you for trusting and believing in the mission of our project, please dont forget you are part of our family!
Like the rest of the world, the Cuenca Soup Kitchen has faced tremendous challenges in response to Covid-19. On March 12 during our service, we were told that we needed to close, perhaps indefinitely. We were able to distribute all of the perishable food in our pantry to our clients before we left for the day. Although we were no longer able to operate our kitchen because of the coronavirus, we knew that the need was about to become ever greater.
This news came during a year of tremendous growth as the need for services for our refugee guests and financially challenged Ecuadorians has grown. On March 12th we were serving approximately 800 lunches a week with many of our guests being under 5 years of age.
As in every corner of the world, those with less suffer more. Loss of income and the inability to get food to people in the midst of this pandemic has swelled the numbers in need. The inability to gather meant that we needed to create a new model to help hungry people.
Hearts of Gold, an umbrella organization for a number of foundations in Cuenca, quickly identified the 40 most vulnerable families in these foundations. In partnership with them the Cuenca Soup Kitchen has been able to fund food baskets for these families. Each food basket feeds a family of five two meals a day for seven days. Since that time we have been able to raise enough funds to supply 77 families weekly food baskets, a total of 1,078 meals per week.
In addition, we have teamed with Cuenca councilwoman Marisol Peñaloza’s project to bring food baskets, medicine, and clothing to remote communities in the mountains. One such community can only be reached by leaving the highway and traveling another three hours on horseback. Your donations are currently helping 45 such families.
Like the restaurants, the Cuenca Soup Kitchen has effectively become a “to-go” operation. By pooling our resources with Hearts of Gold and councilwoman Peñaloza, food is provided to those in need. Given the circumstances we are fully committed to our new normal. We are happy to adjust our methods in order to reflect the requirements of the current situation. After all, it is the mission that is important and with your generosity we have been able to continue to feed hungry people.
It has been an honor to work together with such dedicated and involved people in our community. Thank you all for your kind heart, please continue supporting this project that has grown because of your generosity.
With love and gratitude,
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