Facts About Our Work in Guatemala

In 1986, Food For The Poor (FFTP) began working in Guatemala. The charity later began providing destitute families in the Central American country secure homes with sanitation, clean water and self-sustaining projects as a source of income and nutrition. FFTP works with in-country partners Caritas Arquidiocesana and the Order of Malta. There are 78 active projects in Guatemala including seven feeding programs, one recovery center, 18 community development programs, nine animal husbandry projects, 12 housing projects, three water, four medical, two agricultural, seven educational and one Angels Of Hope children’s home project. There also are two hospice and two scholarship programs.

In March 2020, FFTP responded quickly when COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, became a pandemic. The Guatemalan government issued a call for the mandatory use of face masks in public. FFTP established a project to provide necessary tools to training centers for women to earn an income as they produced more than 16,720 face masks.

  • By the end of December 2020, there were more than 138,000 recorded coronavirus cases, according to worldometers.info.
  • More than 1 million people needed emergency food aid, an increase of 570,000 from the beginning of the year, a result of lost work related to the pandemic.
  • Most of the population cannot afford the cost of the basic food basket. As a result, stunting in children under 5 is one of the highest in the world – and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. At 46.5 percent nationally, the stunting rate climbs up to 70 percent in some departments, with peaks as high as 90 percent in the hardest hit municipalities, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

In 2020, FFTP shipped 484 tractor-trailer loads of essential items to Guatemala, including 95 tractor-trailer loads of items specifically for COVID-19 relief, and 55 tractor-trailer loads of hurricane supplies in response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

On Nov. 3, 2020, Hurricane Eta made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane just south of Puerto Cabezas, on Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean side of the country. This caused severe flooding in Guatemala, killing a reported 44 people, destroying homes, agriculture and livestock. The communities hardest hit were Alta Verapaz, Izabal and Petén. The situation become chaotic when less than two weeks later, on Nov. 16, Hurricane Iota took basically the same path and made landfall as a strong Category 4, complicating relief efforts. More than 6,400 were evacuated and two people were reportedly killed, more than 1,300 homes, and dozens of roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed by flood water.

The hurricanes added to the woes of communities already grappling with the loss of jobs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. FFTP and its donors are helping farmers replant crops through several projects that will increase food supply to areas hardest hit.

Children suffering from life-threatening malnutrition are receiving nourishing food through an innovative initiative by FFTP, Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE: HRL), and Caritas Arquidiocesana. Since 2011, more than 21.4 million 3-ounce cans of Spammy™ have been provided to destitute families. Spammy™ is a shelf-stable turkey spread that has been fortified with zinc, iron, B vitamins, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

On June 3, 2018, the Volcan de Fuego or "Volcano of Fire" erupted and released a stream of lava and a cloud of hot rocks and ash over nearby Guatemala City, the country’s capital. According to published reports, the eruption of Volcan de Fuego killed nearly 200 people, and 260 have been declared missing. The volcanic eruption was the most severe in 45 years and is one of the most active in Central America. FFTP rushed emergency aid, which included medical supplies, food and clothing. Because of the charity's continued support in Guatemala, supplies were available to allow the organization to respond immediately with aid, which were distributed by the Order of Malta and Caritas Arquidiocesana.

  • In 2020, FFTP built 139 homes for a total of 2,903 homes since inception.
  • FFTP donors work through 24 Angels Of Hope children’s homes in Guatemala. Through this program, 1,555 orphaned and abandoned children have a safe home, food and people who give them loving care.
  • FFTP and its in-country partners support 300 communities that provide women with immediate help and training to create a better future.

The population is approximately 17.4 million residents. The language is Spanish and Catholicism is the largest religion. The currency is the quetzal and the GDP per capita is $8,637.