Fighting hunger for poor immigrant working families on Long Island inspired Sister Maria Jesus to create a nutrition charity titled “Quinoa is a Super Food”.
Catherine McWilliams and Andrea Morale
Daughter of Wisdom, Sister Maria Jesús Pinedo Aguilar, shares the joy of cooking quinoa and the incredible nutritional benefits of this ancient “superfood” with the Immigrant Christian Community of St. Hugh of Lincoln Parish in Huntington Station, New York.
The fight against hunger of poor immigrant working families of Long Island has become more serious due to the pandemic and economic inflation. Thanks to the generous support, Sister Maria assists these families with a charitable nutrition project called “Quinoa is a Super Food”. A rich source of protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients, quinoa has become popular due to its many health benefits.
Sister Maria shares various recipes with the participants, who have the opportunity to prepare and taste them in class.
project based motivation
When she first conceived of the project, Sister Maria was developing her ministry to the parish’s immigrant Christian community. They told him about their difficulties in providing healthy food to families after coming home from long working hours.
“In my talks with the migrants, I have been able to learn about their hopes, concerns and sufferings,” he writes in the project description. Sister Maria cites a parishioner’s concern: “I come home tired after working long hours; All I want to do is rest, sleep, but I’m also hungry… I take a bath and go to buy cheap food, but I’m worried it’s not nutritious enough.
Sister Maria knew she had to do her part to solve the problem and help the immigrant community eat healthy food. Together with Sisters Wisdom Marilyn Soeder, Bernadette Sasson and Teresa de Jesus Aguilar Avila, she had already dedicated herself for many years to the service of the parish’s immigrant community, as part of the Intercultural Community of her congregation. Was in the form In 2015. It aims to provide humanitarian and spiritual services to the Christian community of expatriates.
community behind the project
Sister Maria thought and prayed to find a way to help solve this nutritional problem. He spoke to the parish priest, Father Robert Smith, who supported his idea of the Quinoa Project. She asked the leadership of the Daughters of Wisdom to contribute to finance the purchase of quinoa and the printing of small recipe books to be distributed to families. His sisters responded with generous support and encouragement of the project. Sister Maria later found a supplier who was available to deliver bags of quinoa at a low cost.
Donors support the project
Thanks to generous donors, the project was made possible. From May 2021, Sister Maria began inviting members of the immigrant community for a presentation on the benefits of quinoa for health, sharing some quinoa-based dishes and a healthy and refreshing quinoa-based drink.
Since then, the program has been carried forward with great success, with productions for women’s, men’s and youth group groups from the parish. Prayer is an important component of the productions, and Sister Maria underlines that “life is a gift that God lovingly offers us.” He also quotes Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who says: “Let thy food be thy medicine.”
Each session begins with prayer
educational part of the project
Sister Maria tells a group of Spanish-speaking youth about the importance of eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium, protein, good fats, fiber, vitamins A, C, and D, saying, “Our body is a perfect machine ” and a heart-healthy diet that includes colorful vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains, and of course quinoa. “Quinoa is an amazing superfood,” he told them, explaining that this food contains many essential nutrients for health.
Julio Velazquez, head of the youth group, said Sister Maria’s educational program on quinoa is really making a difference in helping the immigrant Hispanic families who frequent the parish. They now lead a healthier life by making better food choices. “It all helps our families stay healthy,” he said. “It helps our families make better choices about what to eat.”
“I am really grateful to Sister Maria and the way she teaches us how to cook. And the food was fantastic”, said Patricia Alcantara, who attended the presentation. “Today I learned many things – until now unknown to me – about how food can be medicine.”
Learning the right diet is essential for any presentation.
About Sister Maria
Growing up in Peru, Sister Maria always watched her mother use quinoa in soups, salads and desserts for family, friends and neighbors in need. Sister Maria recalls, “My mother was born and raised in the Andes region, where quinoa is grown…she knew it was a super food.” “In prayer, I remembered my mother and how she prepared food with joy and sacrifice every day. He knew how to mix foods based on their nutritional value, and he was delicious. ,
And he adds: “My mother has worked very hard and helped many poor people.”