A Guatemalan mother serves rice and beans to her two young children at a table.
Zaira Rodriguez and her children enjoy Vitafood meals provided by Cross Catholic Outreach.

Catholics Unite Against Hunger in Guatemala

With hunger on the rise around the world, it’s critically important for us to support Church-based efforts to deliver food to vulnerable families and communities in the developing world. Many there face serious food shortages and price increases that can threaten the lives of children with malnutrition.

Thankfully, thousands of compassionate Catholics in the U.S. have begun offering help, and their love and generosity are offering the poor a much-needed source of hope.

One place where Cross Catholic Outreach donors recently made a big impact is the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima in Guatemala.

Thousands of Meals Served

During our 2023 fiscal year, we were able to send three large containers with 816,480 vitamin-fortified meals to the diocese, equipping it to meet the needs of the local poor.

Caritas Santa Rosa, the diocese’s social outreach ministry, is dedicated to transforming communities and lives in Christ’s name, and our meal shipments play a critical role in this process alongside the provision of scholarships, agricultural support, sturdy homes and spiritual nourishment.

These fortified meals are called Vitafood, which is the generic name for all of our specially formulated meal packs designed to meet the needs of the malnourished. Though we receive Vitafood from different sources, each source develops the Vitafood with a rice, potato or lentil base, a protein (usually soy or beans) and key vitamins to energize, strengthen and improve the health of malnourished children and families.

Related: Fighting Malnutrition by Feeding the Hungry With Vitafood

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Committed to Fighting Hunger

One of our friends helping feed the poor in Santa Rosa is Father Alejandro Garcia.

Fr. Alejandro told us how, one day, a woman brought her young child to be baptized. He was shocked when he looked down and saw the boy was a lifeless corpse. The child had died from malnourishment, but his mother felt compelled to bring his frail body to church with the hope of everlasting life. Ever since, Fr. Alejandro has been driven to help families escape hunger and overcome generational poverty.

Now serving as the diocesan delegate of Caritas Santa Rosa, Fr. Alejandro joyfully expresses his love for the poor by bringing Vitafood meals to families in remote villages.

“We see extremely malnourished children, and malnourishment should have been eradicated from the world,” he said. “I strive every day to give them Jesus and to get them out of poverty.”

Lives Impacted

Mealtimes were often stressful for Zaira Rodriguez, a 26-year-old mother raising three daughters under 5.

Her husband left the area to find work elsewhere and is sending money back to her, but it’s not enough for Zaira to consistently provide the girls with three meals a day. Sometimes, she would eat just one meal so her girls could eat two.

“Having the Vitafood is important,” she said.

Maria Elena Jimenez said the Vitafood has had a big impact on the health of her 9-year-old daughter, Maria del Carmen. It has also helped the family stretch its meager income further.

Times have been especially tough since Maria’s husband, Eduardo, fell into a deep hole and hurt his shoulder. As a laborer on a local farm, he gets paid a small amount for every hole he digs. After his fall, he couldn’t work for five months. Although he is back at work now, his disability limits the number of holes he can dig, and the family’s income has dropped as a result.

“I’m happy because if we have money, we buy rice. But if we don’t have money, we aren’t able to buy rice,” Maria said.

With Vitafood, her family no longer has to buy rice, and that means they can afford other types of food. When Maria Elena has the funds to add tomatoes, cilantro and onions to her Vitafood, the meals taste delicious!

Prevent Malnutrition Today!

Many other people in Guatemala and around the world do not know where their next meal will come from, especially as the global economy continues to be shaken by war, high fertilizer prices and reduced agricultural production.

You can prevent hunger by coming alongside Cross Catholic Outreach and giving online today. Your gifts and prayers are a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love for the last, the least and the lost.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.