Community kitchens in Lima, Peru

This reminds me of the community ovens that I’ve heard about in North Africa and Lebanon, where women make their dough at home and then drop it off to be baked. Though I think the savings there is mostly one of fuel and avoided kitchen heat.

Steam rises into air thick with the scent of garlic as women prepare lunch for 120 of Peru’s neediest.

But this is no charity. Obaldina Quilca and Veronica Zelaya – who are on cooking duty today – are also beneficiaries of one of the estimated 5,000 community kitchens run by women in Peru’s capital, Lima.

The kitchens started in the 1970s and persisted through the ‘80s and ‘90s, through dictatorship, terrorism, and hyperinflation that brought Peru to its knees. And now that global food prices have put basic staples out of reach for families across the region, the kitchens that feed an estimated half million residents of metropolitan Lima every day are again providing a refuge.

But their work goes well beyond survival; the kitchens have become a vehicle for collective action, giving women the self-esteem to denounce government shortcomings and demand change. They have risen as one of the most significant women’s organizations in Latin America, and today are on the forefront of protests demanding solutions to a cost of living that many say is reversing recent progress in reducing poverty.


from “Peru’s women unite in kitchen — and beyond,” by Sara Miller Llana, Christian Science Monitor, 28 July 2008 :: via La Plaza

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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