What We Do
A PUERTO RICO WITH STABLE FOOD SECURITY
We distribute food and PPE’s to community organizations throughout the archipelago who do not have access or the certifications necessary to claim the in-kind contributions that their beneficiaries need.
As a grassroots network of volunteers in March of 2020, ACOMER began its operations in food distribution. We received both in-kind and monetary donations at the beginning of the pandemic to deliver groceries to those who could not afford or access them. In the Summer of 2020, we transitioned to larger distributions following our participation in the USDA Farmers to Families program, providing the manpower and distribution networks for donations received from the USDA. As a result of this program, we distributed over 160,000 meals and 3 million lbs. of food to Puerto Ricans across the island. In addition to food distribution, we also hosted events: in April 2020, we hosted a 4,000 person hot-food cookout in Ponce. As our distributions expanded, we began distributing other donated materials as well: 1,500 vaccines, $100,000 of furniture, and 2,000 backpacks filled with back-to-school supplies.
In the process we created a network of volunteers who were focused on improving their community’s access to nutritious food, establishing an island-wide database of local leaders via a community group chat (with over 40+ community leaders and organizations). Coordinating with volunteers, we distribute goods to communities via a first-come first-serve basis, as long as there is no duplication of distributions. It is our intention this coming year to expand upon this toolkit and promote the adoption of it throughout many more Puerto Rican communities.
We are currently supplied by the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, which is a part of the local Department of Agriculture.
The gardens are overseen by “community leaders” who organize group gardening sessions between volunteers, and we are in consistent contact with them through our community leader group chat. In the coming year, we hope to expand volunteer engagement in the gardens by implementing a coordinated strategy between leaders.
We have partnered with el Servicio de Extensíon Agrícola (S.E.A.), to conduct educational workshops focusing on raising nutritional awareness. In “Gardening 101”, the class explores topics from food insecurity to composting to different species of vegetables. In addition to food- related material, we have also had seminars teaching technological literacy to the elderly.
Food Security Education
In this particular project, we are currently creating and posting content on our social media pages, and as of the 1st quarter of 2022, we have been deploying a web-blog with relevant research articles and dissertations around food security topics around the archipelago. This effort will be done in conjunction with 3 other NGO’s, 9 Subject Matter Expert Professors, 1 agronomist and 2 current MPA candidates at the University of Puerto Rico Medical campus.
We are also planning to conduct 3 surveys on food insecurity in the coming year. We plan to do this by including surveys as part of the meal distribution process, in addition to partnering with other organizations to include surveys in their distribution operations. It is our hope that by coordinating with these organizations and sharing information that we can create some of the first direct statistical data on food insecurity on the island.