Acceso Colombia announces new phase of feeding program for Venezuelan refugees in partnership with ABACO, World Central Kitchen and Wayuu Taya

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An extension of Acceso Colombia’s feeding program will continue to provide fresh foods to Venezuelan refugees while building economic opportunity for Colombian farmers.

Boyaca, Colombia – Acceso Colombia, a local agribusiness that sources fruits and vegetables from smallholder farmers in Colombia to lift them out of poverty, announced the second phase of its local feeding program that is expected to support 1.5 million meals for Venezuelan refugees over the next few months. This is an extension of Acceso Colombia’s feeding program which began in April of this year through generous funding from Frank Giustra and the Giustra Foundation. Through the donation of 170 metric tons of fruits and vegetables purchased from its local farmer network to date, the business has supported the feeding of 1.8 million meals in 45 kitchens through partners Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia (ABACO) and World Central Kitchen (WCK). The program extension will bring the total meals supported to 3.3 million.

Over 4 million Venezuelans are living abroad, and this number is expected to increase to more than 5 million by the end of the year, making this the largest refugee crisis in Latin America’s history. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, people continue to leave Venezuela to escape violence, insecurity and threats as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services. Approximately 1.3 million people have resettled in Colombia and host communities have been struggling to cope. Due to its unique access to desperately-needed fresh food, Acceso Colombia began utilizing its network of smallholder farmers to support this humanitarian crisis.

Acceso Colombia, an agribusiness built by the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, works with smallholder farmers in the Andean and Caribbean regions to source fruits and vegetables and sell to national retailers and food service companies including Grupo Éxito, Jeronimo Martins, Olímpica, and Sodexo. Since April, Acceso Colombia has been supplying fresh produce weekly to WCK and ABACO in the cities of Cucuta and Pamplona in Norte de Santander, Barranquilla in Atlántico, and Riohacha in La Guajira. WCK and ABACO are committed to serving nutritious, hot meals to refugees as they make the long journey on foot from Venezuela to larger cities in Colombia and other countries in South America.

The unique aspect of our program is that we are creating economic opportunities for our network of marginalized Colombian smallholder farmers while feeding Venezuelan refugees. I am proud to be championing this program,” said Frank Giustra, co-founder of CGEP.

“By providing local produce for our chefs each week, Acceso Colombia is helping us feed thousands of Venezuelan refugees with fresh, healthy meals every day. We are grateful to Acceso Colombia and Frank Giustra for their additional commitment to support our efforts to feed families in need during this critical time.” said Nate Mook, executive director of WCK.

“Thanks to our partnership with Acceso Colombia, we have been able to improve the nutritional well-being of vulnerable Venezuelan refugees and migrants living in our communities. In this way, we can collectively continue working towards zero hunger.” Juan Carlos Buitrago Ortiz, executive director of ABACO.

Acceso Colombia also recently expanded their program to support meals for children directly in Venezuela in partnership with Wayuu Taya, which prepares these meals in local schools benefitting hundreds of children in the municipalities of Mara and Jesus Enrique Lossada in Venezuela.

“Feeding our children has become our main priority. The produce donations from Acceso Colombia and Frank Giustra have helped us feed 1,500 children and we are thrilled to have them as partners,” said Patricia Velasquez, actress, president and founder of the Wayuu Taya Foundation, UNESCO Artist for Peace, and Goodwill Ambassador of the Organization of American States.

About the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP)

CGEP, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, is a social business builder that brings entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty – building from scratch, investing start-up capital, and managing agribusinesses that work with smallholder farmers and fishers. CGEP improves the livelihoods of farmers and farming communities by improving agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities, and facilitating long-term linkages to high-value markets to lift them out of poverty.

About World Central Kitchen (WCK)

Founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, WCK has served more than 8 million meals to those in need in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. In addition to disaster relief, WCK operates long-term programs aimed at improving livelihoods by strengthening local food ecosystems. It is focused on improving health, creating jobs through educational offerings, strengthening food economies, and promoting sustainable social enterprises by creating and implementing locally-led, smart solutions to hunger and poverty.

About Asociación de Bancos Alimentos de Colombia (ABACO)

ABACO is a non-profit organization that represents food banks in Colombia. ABACO’s goal is to contribute to the eradication of hunger and the promotion of responsible production and consumption of food across Colombia. ABACO is collecting food donations from Acceso Colombia and other organizations across Colombia, and delivering the produce to schools, churches, and non-profit oranizations who are then providing meals to refugees and migrants.

About Wayuu Taya

Wayuu Taya is a New York-based foundation which works to improve the quality of living of indigenous communities in Latin America, founded by Venezuelan activist and actress Patricia Velasquez. Wayuu Taya runs health and nutrition programs where they cook meals in their local schools for children in the municipalities of Mara and Jesus Enrique Lossada in Venezuela.