The Cozinha Solidária (Solidarity Kitchen) project feeds low-income people in Umburanas, Bahia, Brazil, a municipality with approximately 20,000 inhabitants, located 448 km (278 mi) from Salvador. The kitchen is located in the city's central Adventist church and has a team of 16 volunteers who prepare and distribute free meals to communities in need within the region. Their purpose is to contribute to the eradication of hunger, meeting the nutritional needs of people in situations of economic vulnerability.
This initiative was conceived by a group of five women, who together started a small weekly production of meals, each volunteer cooking in their own home.
“Solidarity Kitchen started in my Small Group,” says volunteer Rosa Ribeiro. “We collected food at the fair and prepared soup to serve in the city's neighborhoods in need. We started with cassava broth and a basket of bread. Today, I'm very happy with the result, and many people have full stomachs.”
With the desire to contribute so that everyone can have access to a quality meal, Cozinha Solidária started without physical structure, without adequate equipment, and lack of a physical location or resources to purchase food for large-scale production. It was then that the volunteers wrote the proposal for a social program of the company that Fernanda Fernandes works with and they got all the necessary equipment.
“The project idea was well-received by the company and they selected it to receive aid,” Fernanda explains. “It was thanks to this that we received the kitchen and utensils to develop what we dreamed of.”
Helping in Every Way
Between August 30 and September 3, Adventists in Umburanas, Brazil, promoted a week of social action in the city through Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), in partnership with the Instituto Água Viva (Living Water Institute). Poor communities received donations of clothes, free haircuts, food baskets, and soup prepared by Cozinha Solidária.
Jessica Pereira, a farmer, got clothes for her entire family. “I am mother to four daughters and we live with my husband,” she shares. “I got clothes for the kids and a blouse for myself. I believe it will serve a lot. Here in Umburanas it is difficult to get access to the resources we need. This program has been very good and I'm happy.”
Residents of the region also benefited from free dental care. Ana Paula Pereira cleaned her teeth for the first time and was very grateful for the support she received.
“Here is a city that doesn't have a dentist,” she explains. “I arrived at the clinic with my tooth diseased and I couldn't solve my problem, but here with this van I was able to clean my teeth.”
In just one week, 95 patients were seen and Instituto Água Viva's mobile clinic performed more than 230 dental procedures. More than 40 liters (10.5 gallons) of soup were distributed to people in situations of social vulnerability.
Janilde Correia was the volunteer who led the initiative, and expressed gratitude for the support she received to help the local community.
“We realize that our goal is being achieved: bringing hope and saving more people through our actions,” Correia says. “We are feeding not only the physical but also the psychological. We can only thank all the people who have seen our work with a special eye. Serving others is worth it!”
Families also received 367 food baskets donated by Adventist volunteers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seventh-day Adventist Church conducted several charity campaigns in the municipality. With local authorities, Pastor Cleiton Motta, leader of Adventists in the northern region of Bahia, was involved in this last social movement, supporting those most in need as a volunteer.
“The church seeks to make a difference in the lives of others, putting into practice Christ's method of mingling with people, seeing their needs and then gaining their trust,” he affirms. “That's how Christ did it. Then he said: follow me!”