Monday, February 23, 2009

comedor popular

community cafe (UK) or community cafe or kitchen (Canada). NOT a soup kitchen comedor infantil - kids cafe, or kids kitchen.

Comedores populares are usually nonprofit or government run, and are generally low cost, rather than free (though there are some that are free). The term soup kitchen implies free, though some may be low cost. Soup kitchens, in the US at least, are rarely if ever run by a government entity. Community cafe's are a whole fabulous movement in the UK.

Community kitchens seem to be more of a Canadian concept and movement. They seem a bit different in that it seems that everyone who eats pays a small amount, but also participates in some way (as opposed to maybe volunteering, maybe not).

In the States there really doesn't seem to be a great equivalent to the comedores. We had one community cafe in Seattle for a while, that used that name and aimed to provide great tasting food to low income folks (and not) at a sliding scale, but low cost. I loved to eat there, it was close to the courts where I interpreted, but last I knew it went under. My vote would be for using and increasing the use of the term and concept community cafe in the US.

I do NOT like the Spanish wikipedia entry for comedores, which claims that it IS equivalent to a soup kitchen and is always a charity project (whereas I would argue soup kitchens are charity, comedores populares are more likely to be solidarity). I also don't love the English wikipedia entry for soup kitchen, which says that they serve at free or low price. I think the general connotation for soup kitchen is free, not low price.

The photo here is from a comedor run by the anti-militarist women's movement the OFP, which makes explicity the links beetween food security and broader forms of physical security.

The city of Bogotá, under Lucho Garzon, the first leftist mayor in years, set up 800, yes 800, new comedores populares. And what do you know, this was all headed up by a human geographer! (Gustavo Montañez)

Thanks to my friend Claire for the UK insights, check out her great blog about her peacemaking work in Colombia.

Does this sense of the terms ring true with your experience? thoughts?

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