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  • Gustavo Driau

Lutheran Church in Punta Arenas: "common pots" to alleviate hunger

In Chile, the long and complex battle against the coronavirus has ups and downs. As of July 20, more than 9,000 deaths have been recorded. Although in recent weeks the figures have confirmed a slight improvement, the situations experienced by families are dramatic.

Throughout the world, and also in Chile, the pandemic deepens inequality. Quarantine, a consequence of COVID-19, brings unemployment and a lack of food.

Government responses are diverse but insufficient. One way to achieve food is the common pots, in which people organize themselves to cook together. The "common pots" are a response from the communities to prepare their meals for their subsistence, organizing themselves with that purpose.

The Lutheran Church in Magallanes-IELMA (which is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile-IELCH) continues with its food support program for poor and vulnerable sectors in Punta Arenas.

The program has two modalities: a) delivery of basic food, b) meal preparation, and home delivery, which is called "common pot."

The "common pot" is a meaningful activity as a symbol and memory in Chile. People gather to prepare food in the community with a deep sense of solidarity and a history of struggle and resistance in the face of adversity. In the 1980s, the "common pots" helped to face hunger and the repression of the dictatorship; nowadays helps to meet the pandemic consequences.

Many people living in poor neighborhoods eat every day thanks to the "common pots," which are solidarity and participatory instruments that let families access to some food.

The church gathers in its Sunday services around 40 people. Last June, a group of members began the task of meeting on Saturdays to prepare food to distribute in the houses of neighbors of the community in need. Pablo Rios and Sandra Oyarzo are two of the lay leaders in the food program, in Punta Arenas.

Meal preparation, cleaning, and food distribution are carried out by a group of 6 people, who are members of the church and also teachers and parents of students of the Lutheran College. The food rations already prepared are distributed in compliance with the COVID-19 prevention regulations, with appropriate gloves and equipment.

Lutheran Disaster Response contributed a donation to start the food program. Since that first contribution, the food program of the Lutheran Church in Magallanes-IELMA has continued with its resources.

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