University of São Paulo: USP students work in the suburbs and seek donations to fight hunger

With the pandemic far from over, increased deaths, unemployment and families in a situation of food insecurity, about 100 students from USP decided to come together to network and change the reality of families on the outskirts of São Paulo. Since March of last year, they have been promoting the SP Against Coronavirus campaign to collect contributions for vulnerable communities in the four corners of the city, especially in the regions of Grajaú, Capão Redondo, Campo Limpo, Perus, Brasilândia, São Mateus, Cidade Tiradentes and Rio Pequeno .

Many of the students were already working on the periphery with the Elza Soares Network of Popular Courses and that was where the initiative was born. With students and teachers, they managed to get more volunteers and even distributed 20 tons of food, about 4,500 basic food baskets and hygiene kits, obtained from 700 donors. The project also has the support of personalities such as Juca Kfouri, Rita Von Hunty, Petra Costa, Djamila Ribeiro, Pedro Serrano, Mel Lisboa and Gregório Duvivier.

Even with the success of the initiative, participants have seen a drop in the number of donations. “We can’t help helping. The pandemic is not over. And those who are hungry, are in a hurry ”, warns the project coordinator Guilherme Mascaretti Proença, a student at USP’s School of Economics, Administration and Accounting (FEA) and director of USP’s Central Student Directory (DCE).

Anyone can help with the campaign by donating the amount they want by transfer using the PIX key . It is also possible to organize food collections, help with the distribution of donations or become a volunteer to work in the communication team by filling in an online form .

Campaign action in the periphery – Photo: Reproduction / SP against the Coronavirus
Check out the video of the SP solidarity action against the Coronavirus in the Campo Limpo region, when student volunteers donated basic food baskets to vulnerable families.

The situations that most mark our team are those in which we serve families with many children at home. Many of them, although very small, manage to explain the situation they have been going through as adults. It is really sad to see how familiar they are with the need to ensure their own survival ”
Guilherme Proença, volunteer of the SP initiative against the coronavirus
Beyond welfare
The team working in the campaign understands that the emergence of hunger does not solve other issues in communities in the periphery and, therefore, seeks to act on other fronts. Spokesperson and one of the leaders of the campaign, Luna Zarattini Brandão, graduated in Social Sciences from USP, highlights the concern to be supportive in times like this. “In the face of inequality wide open by the pandemic, the Network emerged as one of the responses to the various crises. On the one hand, helping families and on the other recovering values and principles such as solidarity, which is fundamental for the construction of a new society ”, she says.

The student Giovanna Costanti of Lima, which makes the course of journalism at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA), USP and also acts in the coordination of actions, said the experience in the initiative allows students to understand the complex reality of the suburbs of São Paulo . “We see the lack of infrastructure, social inequalities and the omission of the State”.

For Giovanna, volunteering in the campaign has been an important experience and, therefore, seeks to show that the project goes beyond assistance. “Our work includes the donation of food, but we also have contact with the benefited families, we encourage the creation of support networks and we try to do an awareness and information sharing work”, highlights the student.

Guilherme Mascaretti Proença, Luna Zarattini Brandão and Giovanna Costanti de Lima – Photo: Reproduction / Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin
Proença says that there is also help for families with the dissemination of courses, training and job vacancies. Information on prevention of coronavirus is another front that is part of the actions. “We make an effort to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks, personal hygiene and vaccination. We talk about the situation we are experiencing with the pandemic and we try to bring true information, fighting fake news that, many times, make people not believe in the pandemic ”.

Finally, the student recalls that, although collections allow hundreds of families not to go hungry, the needy population will remain vulnerable as long as there are no effective public policies. “The actions have fulfilled an urgent and urgent task. We know that a real transformation of this reality of hunger and food insecurity that the country and the city of São Paulo are facing is based on public policies ”.

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