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The Comedor Hogar Maria Madre de Dios is a charitable community center located in the city of Rio Cuarto, Cordoba Province, in Argentina. The Hogar serves nutritious warm meals to about 200 individuals, offers temporary alternative shelter to those in need, and provides training opportunities to young people and displaced adults.

The Hogar maintains a farm that helps stock the kitchen with fresh organic veggies, and where aromatic herbs are harvested to market to area restaurants. The production of aromatic herbs has gained in importance over time, and the Hogar started the production of organic essential oils to diversify and stabilize the farm’s income. Those who benefit from the services of the Hogar spend part of their time involved in the maintenance and growth of the farm. .

The Hogar covers its operational expenses through donations from individuals and local businesses. The Universidad Nacional de Rio Cuarto provides assistance to the farm project through expert advice and financial grants. University engineers are steering the expansion of organic aromatic herb production and the manufacture of essential oils. These initiatives will make the Hogar more self-sufficient, and will provide patrons opportunities to gain technical skills and on-the-job experience.

The Universidad assisted the Hogar in developing a detailed budget for the planting of 13,000 seedlings, and for the equipment necessary to extract the essential oils. These oils are currently being processed using University equipment, under limited-time availability. This arrangement makes the process less efficient, so a key goal of the Hogar is to purchase distilling equipment that can be housed on farm premises. Other important projects include upgrading the current greenhouse and improving the perimeter fence to keep animals away from the crops.

We thank the volunteers and the staff at the Hogar for the outstanding spirit of service and humanitarianism they manifest day after day in their labor of love to help the less fortunate. We specially admire the support given to the beautiful and bright children that make the Hogar their second home, or in some cases, their only home.