By Albert H. Fulcher
Mama’s Kitchen Executive Director Alberto Cortés said as Mama’s approaches its 30th anniversary in 2020, he’s been thinking about this often.
“Over the years, Mama’s Kitchen has provided over 9 million meals to San Diegans,” Cortés said. “Initially, focusing on people with HIV, then expanding its mission to serve people with cancer, congestive heart failure and Type 2 diabetes. The goal of our program is providing medically tailored meals to people with these illnesses with the goal of actually improving their health outcome. This evolvement over the years has impacted tens of thousands of San Diegans that were otherwise vulnerable to nutrition, hunger and whose prognosis might have been a little worse without us.”
Cortés said the volunteer core is part of what has makes Mama’s Kitchen work and its mission viable, possible, vibrant and alive.
“Volunteers are involved in every aspect of our organization,” Cortés said. “From the person who answers the phone, the person who welcomes you when you walk into our pantry and the person who arrives at your door with food to deliver, in all of these cases, volunteers provide tens of thousands of volunteer hours every year. From preparation of food, staging area, distribution, participating in our fundraising events, these volunteers make these things happen in every aspect.”
Cortés said its annual holiday pie sale is a perfect example of a truly collaborative effort with dozens and dozens of volunteers that are involved. It is part of the tradition and culture of Mama’s Kitchen to have community involvement and something that he is hugely grateful for.
Cortés served as Mama’s Kitchen as executive director for more than 17 years. At that time, he was serving on the Board of Directors for more than two years. Even before that, in the early 90s, when Mama’s Kitchen was a very young organization, he delivered food for Mama’s Kitchen.
“I am grateful to be here because the exposure to this world, the work that we do and the people that are involved has over the years made me a better person. I am more aware of the world around me and more hopeful for humanity,” Cortés said.
Mama’s Kitchen is selling pies this time of year and Cortés said they are always trying to engage people every month of the year. There are many opportunities. You can volunteer, which is a year-round need for, and people can consider making financial contributions. The overwhelming majority of funding comes from private funding. “Community support in every capacity is welcome every year, all year,” Cortés said.
Pie sales for the holiday are open until Nov. 18 with pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with volunteers selling Thanksgiving pies donated and baked by local caterers, restaurants and bakeries. This year’s goal is to sell more than 4,000 pies and raise $140,000 to continue its services. With an array of pies available, pies are sold for $25. For more information visit mamaspies.org.