In an effort to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in southern Portugal, the Alentejo Olive Oil Association (Olivum) is teaming up with Cáritas de Beja, a local NGO, to help feed families in need.
As unemployment rises across the southern Portuguese region, Cáritas de Beja has started preparing and cooking thousands of meals to distribute across the province. Olivum will donate olive oil to the NGO to aid in the preparation of healthy meals.See more: COVID-19 Updates
“At a difficult time for some needy families in the region, Olivum associates wanted to contribute in solidarity free of charge with the fruit of their work, distributing free olive oil that will allow [Cáritas de Beja] to cook about 14,000 meals,” Gonçalo Almeida Simões, the executive director of Olivum, said.
At the time of writing, Alentejo has experienced 218 cases of COVID-19 and one fatality. Overall, Portugal has recorded more than 25,300 cases and slightly more than 1,000 deaths.
While Portugal has not faced the same level of public health crisis as other countries in the region, its economy has not been spared.
Nearly one in five Portuguese workers has been laid off as a result of the pandemic. Unemployment skyrocketed to 380,832, just 100,000 shy of the levels reached during the financial crisis.
In addition to helping supply meals to families in need, members of Olivum have been repurposing their farm equipment to help sanitize public spaces too.
Olive growers and oil producers have also been deemed essential workers by the government and have worked throughout the quarantine to keep the food supply chain running.
“From the first moment that Olivum and its associates realized the negative social effects that this pandemic could cause to the most needy populations in Alentejo, we entered into a partnership with Cáritas,” Pedro Lopes, the president of Olivum, said.