In early 2020, Anita (the Brigada leader), asked us to provide the monthly despensa for more families - which brought the total to 55 families. And she also asked us to provide a special despensas to families who have kidney patients, who need specific diets (50 patients) from Mezcala, San Pedro Itzicán and Aqua Caliente. This was all before Covid arrived...
When things began to close down in mid-March 2020 - factories closed down; buses were cancelled that transported people to pick fruit; maids who worked in Guadalajara were let go; and less money was being sent by family members who work in the US. So the cumulative effect was rapid. In these poor areas, people live day to day on what they earn that day. They have no savings or spare money. And lack of money for food quickly became a crisis. Especially for children and the elderly.
We saw this happening, and thanks to many donors, we rapidly increased our spending to provide basic despensas to more vulnerable families who had no other income. And as we've seen before, under the leadership of Anita Torres of the Brigada, her team of youth stepped up and started distributing the food to people who really needed it.
In early April 2020, the Brigada team visited everywhere in San Pedro Itzicán and each town and village nearby, and signed up heads of households who needed food. The team identified the number of households where the people were unemployed (760), as well as those who were elderly, disabled or sick (1,160 households).
Of the population of around 33,000 people in these 12 towns and villages around Lakeside (around Lake Chapala in the Municipality of Poncitlán), initially over 1,900 households were signed up as needing food.
Most households have a minimum of 4 people (some many, many more), so the need was to help feed over 8,000 people!
Very quickly we were running out of money, using savings from other projects, to keep buying food. Fortunately FoodBank Lakeside, has been giving us us financial support. And we are so grateful to the other individuals and organizations who are supporting us. Thank you all so much!
At the beginning of April 2020, we were spending over 90,000 pesos a week on dried goods (beans, rice, lentils and soya), 10,000 pesos on fruits and vegetables and 5,000 pesos on gas for the truck and water and food for the Brigada team. So we were trying to raise 105,000 pesos each week (over US $4,300 a week).
You can see the crowds below waiting for food. Social distancing? Despite our efforts this was difficult - because people were worried they might not get any food if supplies run out, and they were hungry...
The Pet FoodBank Lakeside also provided dog and cat food, as animals also need food.
Our sewing team made thousands of masks and we gave these out for free in the San Pedro communities.
When some people returned to work at the end of August 2020, we re-concentrated on our Community Kitchen program in San Pedro to feed kids at least one hot meal a day - and provide fresh water to them as well.
Since August 2020, more than 80 children come for the meal, 5 days a week. And we are still providing 50 renal patient families with food and water.
Due to requests from residents in La Pená, we started a Community Kitchen there in March 2021 which is feeding 120 children, five days a week. Another village is also asking for help.