The spread of the coronavirus continues to have dire implications around the world, particularly in Latin America. Countries have taken emergency measures and urged their citizens to stay inside, which has impacted vulnerable communities and individuals struggling for basic necessities as their jobs and paychecks are put on pause. Still, a sliver of hope in such difficult moments lies in the acts of kindness that have abounded around the region. People have kept each other’s spirits up by playing music in unison and cheering for healthcare workers—and in Bogota, one man is helping people in the city do their part by serving up hundreds of burgers for neighborhoods in need.
Emiliano Moscoso owns a chain of restaurants called Sierra Nevada and, even though most businesses have slowed down, his kitchens have plenty to do right now. As the Associated Press highlights this week, Moscoso launched what he’s calling a “Solidarity Menu” project. The idea enables Colombians to order food online for families enduring economic hardship during the pandemic. He and his employees prepare the meals and work with a start-up called Rappi to deliver them.
“Here in Latin America there’s a lot of concern because governments lack the resources to feed the population, so what we’re doing is appealing to people’s solidarity and people who are perhaps more well-off, so they can buy Solidarity Menus for those who will need it,” Moscoso told the AP.
The initiative has helped him keep his staff working and many other restaurant owners have joined the initiative as well.
Moscoso estimates that more than half of the burgers have gone to Venezuelan migrants, who have come to Colombia as a result of the economic and humanitarian crisis in their country over the last several years. The AP notes that many of them work on the streets selling flowers and souvenirs. These populations are especially at risk for the virus since they often struggle with homelessness in Colombia or live in tightly cramped shelters.
“The other day I delivered 600 burgers to two tough neighborhoods of Bogota and there were families who had not eaten for days,” Moscoso said. “It’s very moving what’s happening with just nine days of a lockdown. I can’t imagine what will happen with 20, 30 or 40 days, and people not being able to go out and make a living.”