Foodbank Lakeside will run out of food in two weeks
FBL serves approximately 600 families a week throughout Chapala.
Foodbank Lakeside team.
Patrick O’Heffernan , Ajijic. .- Foodbank Lakeside has only enough money to buy food for the families it feeds for two more weeks. FBL has been providing despensas to families in Lakeside devastated by Covid-19, sickness, and unemployment since April of this year, operating on donations from the Lakeside community and discounts from local food stores. But donations have fallen to a trickle and there may be no food to dispense after next week, even though there are hundreds of families who depend on it for their daily meals.
Paola de Watterlot, founder and Director of FBL, says that “many people who have donated think that families in Lakeside have returned to work and there is no more need for despensas,” she says pointing out that, “this is not true. There are still many families who need help.”
FBL serves approximately 600 families a week throughout Chapala, ranging from elderly couples to large families with many children. Each family is carefully vetted to insure they need help. Each family receives a despensa – a small one for two to four people, or a large one for 5 -10 people, each one feeding an average family for two weeks; families do not receive money. Food is bought from local vendors in each community who provide discounts to FBL.
“We know all of these families,” says de Watterlot, who was born in Guadalajara but has lived in Ajijic since she was 7 years old. “We have a Mexican member of our team who lives in each community we serve and knows the community and the families”, she adds.
De Watterlot founded FBL in April of this year to help families whose breadwinners lost their jobs when Covid-19 shut down businesses and the economy shrank. But as her team quickly learned, it was not just Covid-19 that was the problem – there were families with other medical problems or chronic unemployment that needed help, primarily the elderly, disabled, and sick. Since they opened, FBL has distributed over 10,000 dispensas to help these people.
“We help one family in Santa Cruz where one member has cancer and another has kidney failure,” said de Watterlot, as an example of the range of families they feed. They help over 200 families in Chapala, using a team of 2 American expats and three local Mexicans. The team even prepares special food for the family with kidney disease.
Food Bank Lakeside is managed by a volunteer board and 30 volunteers, both expats and Mexicans. Many of the expat volunteers help with fundraising, registering the families and purchasing. The Mexican volunteers often deliver the food despensas because they know the communities and the families, but everyone pitches in to do everything. The result is an organization which feeds 600 families at a cost of about 280,000 pesos — less than 125 pesos per person per month, a little going a very long way.
Because the need for food assistance goes beyond families devastated by Covid-19 de Watterlot wants to make the FBL a permanent fixture in Lakeside and has structured it as a registered non-profit that can provide a tax exemption to US donors. But first, she must get the organization through the next two weeks.
People can donate online or in person. Online donations can be made to the Foundation for Lakeside Charities at https://lakechapalacharities.org/donate/. Specify that your donation is for Food Bank Lakeside. Watterlot stresses that monthly donations are the best because they allow her to project income and plan better. Donors can also contact Food Bank Lakeside through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FoodBankLakeside/ or call at 376 765 7084 and a staff member will pick up a cash donation. Donations are tax-deductible for US citizens and FBL will provide a tax receipt for donations. And consider volunteering.