[Community kitchens ready to prevent COVID-19] Community strategy for health education to strengthen the community kitchens in San Juan de Miraflores against COVID-19

Four community kitchens in San Juan de Miraflores in southern Lima were given training for two months. A total of 30 kitchen members and 12 community health agents were trained in COVID-19 prevention and the improvement of the service they provide.

San Juan de Miraflores is one of the 43 districts that comprise the Province of Lima, with an estimated population of over 365 thousand inhabitants, located in the southern cone of the Lima region. Due to its urban and socio-demographic characteristics, its population was very vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the community kitchens in the area. Swiss Cooperation in alliance with the Asociación Benéfica Prisma as executive agency supported the project: “Strengthening community kitchens in San Juan de Miraflores in response to COVID-19” to tackle the pandemic crisis, activating this community social support network as a strategy to face the pandemic, including key actors such as leaders of community kitchen organisations, community health workers (ACS), community leaders and youth organisations.

The project worked from October – November 2020, coordinating directly with the Municipality of San Juan de Miraflores, the health units of the Ministry of Health and the community kitchens, reaching 320 user families in two areas. It held educational sessions for over 30 kitchen organizers on healthy diet, COVID-19 prevention and community kitchen management. Ten families per kitchen were taught how to make their own home bio-gardens and to use kitchen waste to make compost at home. The results are shared below.

I. Improving customer service in the community kitchens

The activities strengthened four community kitchens: Comedor Virgen de la Puerta, Comedor Señor de los Milagros, Comedor Cocina Familiar 13 de Octubre, and Comedor Manuel Seoane. They identified the specific needs and requirements of each kitchen. The project held eighteen training workshops to improve the community kitchens’ service, making field visits to provide sustained technical assistance and to put into practice agreements on bio-safety practices, a healthy diet, kitchen waste management and bio-gardens.

Healthy community kitchens

The project improved the infrastructure of the kitchens’ wash-basins and toilets, to provide greater convenience to the kitchens’ cooks when making meals, and facilitate preventive health and hygiene measures for Covid-compliance.

Strengthening capacities in the circular economy

The project also provided waste bins to facilitate the proper management of kitchen waste according to type, using waste that can be incorporated into the circular economy. The families learned how to dispose of waste properly, and what to do with oils, which cause the most pollution.

Community bio-gardens

The project established urban community kitchen gardens, which provide produce for making healthy, fresh and pesticide-free food, and cuts food costs. It also gave advice on planting urban family kitchen gardens and on making compost with various vegetables, as an input for the kitchen.

II. Community food monitoring and support network for putting up epidemiological fences.

The project conceived the community network as a key element in the follow-up of families, and hence worked with health units, the Municipality of San Juan de Miraflores, community leaders, community kitchen leaders and the health workers’ association. The project mapped the households in the four selected shanty towns – to see how close they were to the targeted community kitchens – and made an initial visit followed by telephone follow-up to identify suspected cases of COVID-19. Finally, the project supplied the community kitchens with non-perishable staples, so that they will be able to provide food support to COVID cases that request it.

Epidemiological fence support network

Community monitoring became key to early detection of possible infection. The health workers were key in coordination between health units and community kitchens, for deciding whether cases needed follow-up from the health system or community support from the community kitchens.

No cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in the two months the project was operating, which was an indicator of proper compliance with prevention and hygiene measures. The information was reinforced during personal follow-up visits and by telephone calls to each family.

The four selected community kitchens were supplied with food sufficient to support approximately 35 families with a family member with COVID-19.

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Related article:
Community kitchens prepared to prevent COVID-19. My favourite bio-garden competition (leer)

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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.