Toledo and one of kitchens in Juchitán. Toledo and one of kitchens in Juchitán.

Artist-aided kitchens fed quake victims

Community kitchens kept going through support from Francisco Toledo

Oaxaca artist Francisco Toledo kept over 100 community and family kitchens going in his native Juchitán for four months, feeding thousands of victims of the September earthquakes.

This week they were shutting down, the worst of the disaster over in this city in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Among them were the seven cooks in charge of community kitchen No. 18, christened 3 de Mayo, or May 3, who had fed some 40 people their daily meals after the first earthquake struck September 7.

Just a few days before the women had received the last batch of supplies from the Los Totopos collective, a group of youths that volunteered by distributing food supplies in the region.

The routine was similar in the other 44 community kitchens. Preparations for breakfast started at around 8:00am, and work did not finish until around midnight.

Asunción Magariño López coordinated the work at the 3 de Mayo kitchen. She told the newspaper El Universal that aid from Francisco Toledo arrived four days after the earthquake, and continued uninterrupted until just recently.

Magariño said his support was “a great help for my family and many others” but agreed it was time the kitchens shut down because the needy families have had a chance to recover.

There were 45 officially recognized community kitchens and about 70 family kitchens that received supplies from the artist, and it has been estimated that those efforts benefited over 5,000 people.

There was government aid for the first two months after the quake. “They had the responsibility but they left us to our own devices, they abandoned us, all except [Toledo],” said Margariño.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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