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a church in brazil takes on a new mission, baking bread for the poor

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As Brazil battles apandemic that has taken over half a million lives and thrustmillions more further into poverty, a church in the west of Riode Janeiro has assumed a new mission: to bake thousands ofloaves of bread.
Since its creation in April of last year, the Pão de Fátima- or Fátima’s Bread – social action program has donated morethan 2 million hunks of freshly baked bread to Brazilians hithard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is supported by volunteers who take bread, hotfood and other basic goods to low-income families,rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly and the homeless.
Approximately 12.8% of Brazil’s population now lives belowthe poverty line of 246 reais ($49.35) a month, according toestimates from think tank Getulio Vargas Foundation – thehighest rate in a decade.
More than half of the country’s households experienced somedegree of food insecurity as unemployment and food prices surgedduring the pandemic, giving rise to long soup kitchen queues andpeople begging for grocery money on the streets.
“We are very happy to be able to help, but seeing thehardship and misery on people’s faces is very painful,” saidBerthaldo Souza Soares, one of the program’s leaders. “We aretalking about the city of Rio de Janeiro – of 5, 10, 15, 20kilometers of poverty hot spots and people who suffer fromhunger.”
The government’s emergency cash payments to the country’smost vulnerable helped alleviate poverty levels in 2020, buthave been reduced as slow vaccination efforts and continuinghigh infection rates curb Brazil’s economic recovery