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Medina cooks potatoes at his home in Michoacán. Medina cooks potatoes at his home in Michoacán.

Government closed kitchens leaving users with nowhere to go

An 85-year-old in Quiroga, Michoacán, wonders how he will eat

The federal government’s decision to terminate its predecessor’s community dining program has left some erstwhile beneficiaries in a precarious position.

José Honorio Medina Gaspar, 85, of Santa Fe de la Laguna – an indigenous community in the Michoacán municipality of Quiroga – depended on the local comedor comunitario for his survival and that of his disabled adult children for two years.

The former government opened the Santa Fe community kitchen in December 2016 and around 300 people in situations of extreme poverty ate meals there on a daily basis until it closed at the end of January, two months after President López Obrador took office.

Speaking in his native language of Purépecha, Medina told the newspaper El Universal through an interpreter that he can’t believe that he will never again be able to sit down to breakfast or lunch at the facility.

He explained that he became a widower many years ago and since then assumed the sole responsibility of looking after his son and daughter, José and Lupita, both of whom were born with mental handicaps.

Since childhood Medina had worked as a potter but the death of his wife and his advancing age coupled with the task of caring for his children made it impossible for him to earn a living to feed himself and his family.

The opening of the community kitchen, part of the former government’s National Crusade Against Hunger (CNCH), was a godsend.

But since its doors were closed, Medina said that he and his daughter – José recently passed away – haven’t eaten with any regularity.

The octogenarian added that he was occasionally able to get a day’s work in the fields for which he is paid 50 pesos (US $2.60) but explained that’s only enough to buy some tortillas and beans.

Medina showed an El Universal reporter his wood stove where he was cooking two potatoes and a little bit of corn, and said that was all he and Lupita would have to eat for the foreseeable future.

“That’s what I’m going through now but what are we going to do? They’re not going to give us anything to eat again . . . There’s nowhere to go to eat,” he said.

The Santa Fe de la Laguna community kitchen is one of 460 that have closed in Michoacán since the new federal government took office.

Jordy Arres Hernández, the former coordinator of the program in the state, said there were more than 41,000 beneficiaries including thousands of children and many pregnant women.

Verónica Figueroa Bautista, manager of the Santa Fe facility, said the last time the government sent supplies was in December.

She subsequently received some support from local residents but it ultimately wasn’t enough to allow it to remain open.

The previous government’s anti-hunger campaign has been criticized for failing to end hunger and is under suspicion for corruption.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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