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. People live day to day in these poor areas on what they earn. They have no savings or spare money. And lack of money for food quickly became a crisis. Especially for children and the elderly.
As we were going out there each week for FoodShare, a Poco a Poco project, we saw this happening, and rapidly increased our spending to provide basic despensas to more vulnerable families who had no other income. This is why we asked for support.
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, the Brigada team went all around the town of San Pedro Itzicán and to 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, a new group that had just started out, gave us financial support. But we are so grateful to the other individuals and organizations who are supporting us. Thank you all so much!
From the beginning of April 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 local Pet FoodBank also provided dog and cat food, as animals also need food.
Our sewing team was busy making 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 to feed kids at least one hot meal a day - and provide fresh water to them as well. 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.