2019 Grad Diego Lorenzana Fights the Pandemic By Feeding Impoverished Families in Honduras


Photo of families in Honduras benefiting from Operacion Frijol
Photo of an elderly woman benefiting from Operacion Frijol
Photo of a young woman with an Operacion Frijol volunteer




May 1, 2020          

BATON ROUGE--As COVID-19 ravaged the U.S. in the first two weeks of April, LSU 2019 sport administration graduate Diego Lorenzana and his best friends raised 1 million lempiras--$47,000 dollars—and fed more than 3,000 families in Honduras.

They are now expanding the campaign to help even more people in impoverished communities.

“Operación Frijol is an organization that seeks to counter-attack the greatest pandemic in modern history,” the organization’s website explains.

The non-profit takes its name from the Spanish word for bean, the common source of nutrients in the Honduran diet. Because the basic protein source costs little, a contribution of $15 can feed an entire family.

The group partners with the Catholic Church to identify families in need and the distribute food supplies. 

Even If We Are Far From Home, Together We Can Help

While the name and concept are simple, the marketing strategy is not. It relies on a complex network of donors, producers, distributors and a massive media campaign.

That’s where Lorenzana’s expertise comes in.

Photo of Diego Lorenzana and Alyssa Kimmell

Diego Lorenzana (left) at his December graduation with Office of Student Services Counselor Alyssa Kimmell.

After graduating from LSU in December and moving to Miami, Lorenzana was in the midst of the job interview process with several sports teams, when the pandemic paralyzed the industry.  

While considering whether to return to Honduras or pursue a master’s in marketing, he decided to lend his talents to an organization created by his friends to help others.

“Because most of us are working from different parts of the world,” he says, “Our motto is: Even if we are far from home, together we can help.”

Igniting Interest With Ambassadors

From the beginning, he devised the marketing strategy and managed social media accounts. While the organization has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Instagram is their biggest platform with more than 2,700 followers.

From the start of the project, Lorenzana knew building an ambassador network to share social media content was critical to their success. “We started with 12 ambassadors and now have more than 150 in two of the major cities in Honduras,” Lorenzana explains.

Besides simply providing content for the ambassadors for promotional purposes, Lorenzana has a greater goal for the ambassador program. “We want to empower our ambassadors,” he says, “so this project is theirs as well as ours.”

The ambassadors’ passion has ignited interest across the globe in a relatively short time. “We have appeared on national and international television and recognized by San Francisco Giants player Mauricio Dubon,” Lorenzana reports.

Choosing LSU Was the Best Decision

Lorenzana credits LSU for helping him understand the value of building relationships.

“What I value the most of my time at LSU is the people I met,” he explains.

“My first day at LSU at the CHSE orientation, everyone was welcoming and open to help,” he recalls. “Ever since then, I’ve known choosing LSU was the best decision for me and my professional development.

“I built relationships with my professors,” he continues. “I always looked for guidance, and they gave me the tools to succeed."

“By the end of my stay at LSU, I had interned at The Honduran National Soccer Team and the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he says. “Now, I am helping to mitigate the damage the global pandemic does in Honduras through Operación Frijol.”

No matter how faraway his career path leads from Baton Rouge, Lorenzana is sure to remain a committed Tiger.

“I will be forever grateful to LSU for giving me the tools to become the person I am today,” says Lorenzana.

More information on Operacion Frijol is available on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About LSU School of Kinesiology (SOK)
A school of the College of Human Sciences & Education, the SOK advances the understanding of physical activity, sport, and health to optimize the quality of life for diverse populations through excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, and engagement. SOK offers bachelor’s degrees in sport administration and kinesiology with a pre-athletic training, human movement or other related concentrations. SOK offers the state’s first accredited master’s in athletic training, a master’s in kinesiology, an online master’s in kinesiology (sport management) and a PhD in kinesiology. Graduates go on to successful careers in the health and fitness industry, corporate wellness, sport agencies and businesses, athletic administration, and K-12 educational settings.

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About LSU College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE)
Located on the flagship campus in Baton Rouge, the College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, the University Laboratory School and the Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool. These combined schools offer eight undergraduate degree programs, 20 graduate programs, and seven online graduate degree and/or certificate programs. CHSE current enrollment includes approximately1,800 undergraduates and more than 1,900 graduate students. CHSE is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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For more information, contact:
Adrian Hirsch
LSU College of Human Sciences & Education

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