SAN DIEGO — The coronavirus is challenging our community more than ever.
In this Zevely Zone, I profile Mama's Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that is rising to meet those challenges by delivering record amounts of meals in a non-contact process.
"We are working around the clock trying to take care of San Diegans who need food," said Executive Chef Jason Martin.
A few days ago, Mama's Kitchen delivered 4,500 meals in one day. Imagine signing up to deliver a meal to someone you love and then increasing that order to nearly 12,000 meals a week.
"Our clients are critically ill so normally it would be a problem for them to be out at the grocery store. Under the circumstances with COVID, they just can't take that risk," said Martin.
Mama's Kitchen delivers food to San Diego County's most vulnerable people battling cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. For Jason Martin his motives are personal.
"I lost my mom to cancer," he said.
Mama's Kitchen was established in 1990 by a San Diego caregiver who enlisted volunteers to prepare and deliver free meals to neighbors who were sick with HIV/AIDS and unable to cook for themselves.
Mama's Kitchen is more taxed than ever because they are delivering 28% more food in this crisis with fewer donations and fewer hands to help.
"The trick for us over the past few weeks has been providing food to more people. I am grateful to a very dedicated staff that, in spite of the challenges, are willing to still go in and prepare food and package and deliver food," said Alberto Cortés, the nonprofit's CEO. "Food is always critical in our community and when access to it diminishes the critical nature of it increases."
Mama's Kitchen continues to accept referrals for new clients and as the pandemic continues has seen a significant increase in demand for its services.
"For three decades the impact of our services has been clear throughout San Diego, but Mama's Kitchen's mission is critical now more than ever," said Cortés "Every meal we deliver right now not only provides vital medical nutrition but also keeps our most vulnerable neighbors, family and friends safe."
"Mama's Kitchen is well versed in addressing public health, having provided nutritious food to those most vulnerable since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic," says Cortés "Currently, Mama's Kitchen is not only caring for those that are critically ill but also caring for the well-being of our county by reducing the number of people that need to leave their homes."
Last Saturday, in addition to all of the meals Mama's Kitchen usually delivers, they gave their clients 35-pound emergency food bags filled with whole milk, canned goods, and cereal.
For Jason Martin, every bag, snack, and meal he makes reminds him of his mother.
"I'm proud. I am extremely proud," said Martin "This is love, this is the community stepping up."
Last year, Mama's Kitchen delivered its nine millionth meal. Mama's Kitchen is highly volunteer-driven. If you'd like to volunteer or make a donation to help the organization's increased expenses go to www.mamaskitchen.org/news.