South America

Malnutrition – the great killer behind the curtain

Malnutrition is a far greater problem than world hunger. Why? Because even if a person gets sufficient quantities of food, they can still be undernourished and thus subject to chronic disease, if the food they consume does not provide the proper amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to meet their daily nutritional requirements. In other words, being overweight does necessarily mean being well nourished. According to the UN Hunger report, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.  The vast majority of the hungry, 852 million, live in developing countries — around 15 percent of their population — while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries. The FAO states that the world is increasingly faced with a double burden of malnutrition, with chronic undernourishment and micronutrient malnutrition co-existing with obesity, overweight and related non-communicable diseases (affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide). Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. However, with much of the imagery related to these reports showing emaciated children in Africa and India, most people fail to realise that Obesity is another form of this same chronic problem. According to the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) malnutrition is the largest single contributor to worldwide disease. In my travels to more than 65 countries I have seen a consistent pattern of poor eating habits and thus malnourishment, fueled by an all-too-convenient access to American fast food chains like McDonalds, Burger King and KFC. With heavy subsidization by the local government these junk food behemoths are able to entice, otherwise, well-meaning consumers to throw out common sense and choose foods that may satisfying their hunger and save them money in the short-term, but cost them thousands of dollars in medical bills and […]

FFL in Ecuador

January 2012 — Winter season came to Ecuador bringing torrential rains and suffocating waves of heat. However, the radical weather patterns were not enough to deter the FFL volunteers from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Taking time out from their busy family lives and business, the volunteers consistently devote time to the service others. Over 500 people were waiting in the town of El Consuelo to experience the prasadam from Food for Life. The journey there from the FFL kitchen in Guayaquil takes almost two hours. Nonetheless, the volunteers enjoyed the spectacular scenery, watching the dramatic landscapes unfold before them, bedecked with flowers of all colors and lush green vegetation responding to the winter rainfalls. The journey took a little longer than anticipated and so some of the families went home. However, the FFL team immediately went to community leaders to announce from house to house of their arrival. Making use of the bells of a beautiful church, a large crowd once again gathered for lunch! Buckets of delicious vegan rice and lentil stew, pastries and herbal teas were being passed children and adults. The smiles and words of praise kept coming and mental images will last in our memory forever. The following week, hundreds of others were the beneficiaries of a traditional vegan rice and lentil stew, fried sweets, and aromatic teas, prepared just hours before by a group of enthusiastic FFL volunteers. Many members of the community and of other organisations join the FFL Ecuador team each week for the experience of distributing free vegan lunches. Some weeks, due to budget constraints, the FFL Ecuador team is only able to feed 300 people, but the joy of helping even a few people with a warm plate of food prepared with love is amazing! Our small gesture of kindness, melts the hearts of everyone and soon their love comes back […]

Food for Life in Ecuador

Food for Life volunteers have served hot vegetarian meals to school children and impoverished families for over 20 years in this South American country. Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border with Brazil. The country also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) west of the mainland. Recently, the FFL team visited some villages in Ecuador, where eager people waited patiently under tents to protect themselves from the blazing sun. As soon as the FFL van arrived, an announcement of their arrival went out over the public speaker system. The local neighbourhood church groups wearing yellow shirts, similar to FFL volunteers, began organising the gathering crowds and helping to set up distribution. While working under the hot tents, FFL volunteers perspired heavily serving the delicious lunch. However, “The satisfaction was reflected on the faces of everyone,” explains, volunteer Ekatma Das. “The people were so touched that we had gone out of our way to come to them with such delicious food. One lady told me, ‘We thought that no one cared anymore. Now we know differently. Thank you so much.’” Food for Life served hot rice with dhal, fried sweet dumplings and an aromatic vegetable curry. Ecuador Food for Life web site blog Ecuador FFL on Flickr (Photos: Gabriela)