Celebrating Food and World Food Day in Lima, Peru
By Alejandra Schrader, Ambassador, Oxfam America

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I recently had the opportunity to travel to South America and represent Oxfam America as one of their Sisters on the Planet Ambassadors. As a long-time advocate of healthy eating and sustainable farming, I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit Lima, Peru, and to promote the causes I support in Spanish, my native language.

First, we visited the municipality of Villa Maria del Triunfo, south of Lima. We went to the Comedor Flora Tristán, one of the soup kitchens supported by the GROW campaign or ‘CRECE’, as they know it in Peru. A small group of women, most of them single mothers and victims of domestic violence, run the kitchen and belong to the board.

I was extremely impressed with their skills—they are all experienced home cooks with an incredible passion for cooking. Despite how rudimentary their kitchen tools are, they all pay attention to detail, focusing on the flavor and the nutritional value of the meals they serve. Every day, these amazing ladies serve a full lunch to members of the community that, otherwise, may not have access to a meal, let alone one that is packed with love and nutrition.1229910_511032862304157_512841068_n.jpg

In Lima, I saw the difference that a soup kitchen makes for underprivileged communities and tasted for myself the amazing flavors found in each of their dishes. As a chef, I was humbled and reminded that the most important thing is to cook with love.  It reminded me that hosting a meal means more than just sharing food. When we share our meals, we share invaluable experiences: shared meals are a gateway to rich conversations that divulge culture, traditions, and values.

The following days I had the opportunity to be part of Oxfam’s presence at Mistura Peru 2013, the largest culinary festival in Latin America. Their main platform, known as Apoya y Crece (Support and Grow), featured an exhibition called “El Arte de Alimentar” (The Art of Feeding) which displayed blank murals designed by local artist Alberto Lama.

This very powerful theme was meant to educate the crowds on the importance of small-scale producers in the food system.  I came away feeling more passionate about food and the need to educate people to help create a greater conscience on the importance of what we eat, of where our food comes from. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to visit such beautiful country and to promote CRECE in Peru. I am inspired by the people that I’ve met and by their positive attitude and hard work

This World Food Day,  everyone is invited to participate in or host an Oxfam World Food Day dinner to foster conversation with friends and family about where your food comes from, how it’s produced, who is producing it, and how you can take action to protect farmers and farmlands. With a season full of rich, wonderful food, we hold the responsibility to think critically about our food consumption and about our abilities to help improve the food system.

If you #hungerto spread awareness and dinner for change, sign up to host an Oxfam World Food Day Dinner here. You will be provided with a discussion guide, recipe cards, and fact sheets to engage your guests and spark a conversation. If you are interested in attending a dinner, be sure to RSVP on our Events page! Let’s stand on common ground with farmers and communities worldwide and advocate for food justice for all!

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