Who’s Your Mama’s Kitchen?

I was sick last week, and I’m finally catching up this week!  I hate being sick.  Who doesn’t, I guess?  It hurt to even look at a computer screen let alone type something.  One day I even put a piece of bread in the toaster – with the plate.  Yep, I wasn’t thinking clearly.  Fortunately, a bad cold passes.  I’ve been wanting to write about my visit to Mama’s Kitchen (http://www.mamaskitchen.org/).  I’ve heard about the organization in passing, and I’ve seen volunteers at Ralph’s collecting non-perishable goods, but I didn’t have a clear idea what it was all about.   It’s a non-profit organization with around 800 volunteers who deliver meals to home bound people affected by AIDS and cancer every day of the year in San Diego County. Not only is enough food delivered for the person battling a disease for every day of the week, if there are any dependents living in the home, they receive meals as well.  There is no charge for this service (people do have to be referred by a third-party, usually their physician). And (drum roll!!) Mama’s Kitchen is about to celebrate its 20th Anniversary!  On top of that milestone, they delivered their 6 millionth meal this year in March.

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These numbers from 2011 are staggering:

-796 volunteers donated more than 31,000 hours of service and drove 131,664 miles during the year.

-347,690 meals were delivered to 572 individuals in San Diego County.

-Dollar value of volunteer service and mileage is estimated at $809,430.

I met a volunteer, Ann, who works in the kitchen.  She’s been volunteering at Mama’s for 15 years.  Not only does Ann have to think about what to make, but she has to think about how food will taste if someone is on a particular medicine or is receiving a certain treatment.  She clearly loves what she does and the people she serves.  She happily told our tour group “I’ve found my calling.”   The number of people who need this service isn’t slowing down either.  The biggest increase in requests comes from single mothers with breast cancer.

In addition to Mama’s Kitchen, Mama’s Pantry is on site as well.  Mama’s Pantry is a place where low-income, HIV positive local residents can come and shop for food – perishable and non-perishable.  All items are given points, and each customer is allowed a set number of points each month.  Mama’s Pantry has 769 clients, and it’s been serving San Diego County residents for 8 years.

So why am I writing about this place?  I want you to help them!!!  Around the holiday season, the organization is inundated with donations.  That’s a great thing, but around this time of year, donations dwindle.  The very cool thing is that it is so easy to do a little bit which can turn into a lot of help for people who greatly need it.  Aimee Halfpenny, Development Manager, and Denise Scatena, Media Relations, filled us in on the next big Food Drive and Fundraiser Campaign, Independence from Hunger 2012.   Throughout the month of July, they will be accepting donations.  So here’s one example of what you can do: 1) Plan a 4th of July party 2) Send out your evites and tell everyone to bring a certain number of non-perishable items (I have their wish list below) 3) Let friends know that whoever brings the most items will win a prize (bottle of wine perhaps?) 4) Call Mama’s Kitchen and ask them to deliver a barrel for the food donations (see photo below) 5) Have a fabulous party 6) The next day, call Mama’s Kitchen and let them know they can come and get their barrel 7) Smile because you just helped out a lot of people who really need it and really appreciate it.  This is just one thought, but you get the idea.  Even if you aren’t having a get together, but you are attending one, ask the party planner if they could do it.

Mama’s Pantry’s Wish List:

box of cereal

package of flour

instant oatmeal packets

bottle of cooking oil

jar of peanut butter and/or jelly

bag of rice

package of dried beans

spaghetti sauce

box of pasta

packets of pasta dinners

canned goods – fruits, soups, vegetables, chili, pasta and beans

mac & cheese

tuna fish / salmon

cake mixes and icing

small box of dry milk

I have to note the awesome people who took the tour with me: Angela (Mira Mesa Mom: http://miramesamom.com), Sean (The Gifted Horse: http://thegiftedhorse.com), and Danielle (Simmworks Family Blog: www.simmworksfamily.com).  It’s always reassuring knowing there are some good people out there!  It was great meeting all of you!!

Take Care and Happy Eating – and get your party plan on for July!