A network of volunteers who prepare meals for the needy that began in Mexico City in March has now spread to Puebla, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Nuevo León and the state of Mexico.
Cocinamos México (We Cook Mexico) began when founder Abelardo Marcondes took a bike ride through the capital city’s historic center and noted the number of homeless people on the city’s streets.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Marcondes, who runs Luxury Lab, a marketing and networking platform for those involved in the luxury sector, decided action was needed to help those in need and Cocinamos México was born.
The project recruits volunteers, mostly families, to cook and package 10 individual meals using their own supplies or those provided in a kit of donated ingredients.
Each meal includes protein, vegetables, fruit, water or a juice box and a dessert. The meals are packaged in biodegradable containers that the family decorates with jokes, drawings or messages of hope, such as: “Everything will be fine”, “This will end soon” and “Made with love.”
Once the meals are ready, they are picked up and distributed at churches. Last week the Mexico City initiative managed to feed more than 700 people in one day, including medical personnel.
The Cocinamos México objective is simple: “To raise awareness among the population that if it is in our hands to be able to help someone else, it must be done.”
Those who are not in a position to cook can also help out by donating ingredients and supplies, volunteer to help with meal distribution or simply help spread the word through social media.
Luisa Hoyos, one of 120 volunteers with Cocinamos Toluca, cooks 15 to 20 meals a day with help from her entire family, even enlisting her 3-year-old to help decorate the to-go boxes. When the newspaper Milenio visited her home, the family was making chicken in green sauce, red rice with vegetables, and black beans.
In its first week, Cocinamos Toluca provided 300 meals for the unemployed, homeless, immigrants and others suffering from the economic crisis provoked by the coronavirus. The initiative will run until July at least, but the thought is that it should continue on a permanent basis even after the coronairus crisis has passed.
“I feel that as a human being, one has to give what one has, what one receives,” Hoyos explained. “I feel that I am obliged that if I always have a plate of food, I should at least give a little and do my bit.”