This Mobile Canteen is a Lifeline for Venezuela’s Children

Ana usually cooks the family’s only meal of the day–if there is one–at 4 pm. There are some days when the family has to wait until 6 pm to eat, and there are some days when they do not eat at all. Ana usually makes a kilogram of rice with salt and garlic to feed herself and her three children: a seven, a five, and a three-year-old. The family eats rice because when Ana cleans someone’s house, she often receives a kilo of rice as payment. “I would like to give my children fruit and things to feed them, but I do not have enough. I cannot get meat or chicken because it is very expensive.”

Ana lives Venezuela, a once thriving country now marred by hyperinflation, underfunded public services, chronic shortages of basic goods, and a lack of medical care. In 2022, in Venezuela, inflation slowed to 234%, which means that a low-income family needs 63 months of minimum wage to afford basic food staples for a month. A month’s worth of basic food staples costs $485.06 in Venezuela, but the minimum monthly salary is $7.66. Crushing poverty has driven seven million Venezuelans to leave their homes, their neighborhoods, and their families, the largest number of displaced people not fleeing war

Happy that it’s lunch time! Photo by Ronal Labrador for Preemptive Love.

In addition to cleaning houses, Ana gets up early in the mornings to gather recyclable plastic from dumpsters. She washes clothes for others. She has sold her belongings, and still, this single mother cannot always put food on her table. “The hardest moment is when they [her children] ask me for food and tell me they have a headache because they are so hungry…Food is very expensive, and in those moments, I get desperate and I have to borrow money from neighbors or relatives. I have even gone to the grocery stores to get a loan to buy a meal for the children.”

When Ana can’t afford food for her children, she does not send them to school. Many parents follow this practice, encouraging their children to sleep through meals to alleviate hunger pains. “The teachers at school ask me why my children miss so much school, and I tell them it’s because they haven’t eaten all day, so I can’t send them to school. Many times I am ashamed to say that, but it is the reality. We are poor. I try to find ways so they do not go hungry and needy, but many times, it is out of my hands. It is desperate, very overwhelming.”

You know how important good nutrition is for child development, especially for children under the age of six. When children under six do not receive adequate nutrition, they do not develop to their full cognitive and physical potential, which hinders their success later in life. That’s why you showed up in Ana’s neighborhood with a mobile food canteen. You’re bringing hot, nutritious meals to forty-five children, including Ana’s, five days a week. Each month, you’re bringing 900 tasty and satisfying lunches into this community. Your generosity is giving Ana one less thing to worry about. “I can’t thank you enough for your support. My children are very happy every time they receive their daily lunch. I see them in better physical and mental condition since they are able to eat so well. Thank you for all you do for the community and for my children.”

As Venezuelan migrants continue to risk their lives crossing the Darien Gap to reach the US Mexico border, Preemptive Love is helping those in need, where they are, so they don’t have to leave. If you’d like to give people one less thing to worry about, donate today. Sign up for our newsletter to see how your generosity is making a difference in people’s lives. Share this post to raise awareness of how severe the crisis in Venezuela is.

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