Barrio Children Helped By Gringos

10,000 empty tummies a month are filled
BY: CATHY WATKINS

Feeding Los Cabos Kids started when Donna Brnjic came for a visit to Los Cabos in 2004 and saw all the hungry children. She took $100 of her own money and bought food which she handed out to those in need, never dreaming of what might happen down the line.  Today the Ministry of Cabo Church has grown to feeding about 10,000 meals a month under the direction of Lupe and Tony Hernandez,  who have been involved for four years now and are extremely dedicated to the cause. 

Feeding Los Cabos Kids is an interdenominational ministry that exists to share God’s love and provide food to hungry children. They partner with local Mexican pastors and their wives to help them oversee and prepare healthy meals for the children in their local neighbrohoods. The goal is to feed the children both physically and spiritually and to involve the community, which is done by providing meals, teaching, nurturing, encouraging, and loving these children in the name of Jesus Christ.

Hurricane Odile wiped out many of the kitchens.  Chairs and tables were strewn about the neighborhood. Tony proudly states that the community rounded them up and returned them instead of stealing them.  All that was left of the pavilion was a cement slab, but Feeding Los Cabos Kids continued.  Sandwiches were made at the church and brought to the children.   After the hurricane, President Pena Nieto helped these Colonias, neighborhoods,  get access to water and electricity. They had been operating without city servicess of  water and electricity because they are located in river beds, and it’s illegal to be there, let along encorage this squatting by providing services.  The church pays for the utilities and actually receives a bill now since they are legalize. With the help of church and community volunteers, the kitchens have been rebuilt and upgraded.    

At present Cabo Church has 10 kitchens in different high need areas of Cabo.  But they are more than just a kitchen; they are also a gathering place.  A typical kitchen has a pavilion, bathroom (outhouse style), storage room, tables, chairs, an enclosed kitchen with reusable plastic cups and plates, a stove and refrigerator, and running water.  Now that water is available, they are able to reduce their dependence on throw away cups and plates and help to conserve the environment. 

The kitchens operate on a half day schedule.  Breakfast is served to those who study in the afternoon, and lunch is served to those who study in the morning. (The schools are so crowded, they operate on split shifts).  Breakfast may consist of pancakes, oatmeal, or eggs with fruit and juice.  Lunch is a sandwich with fruit and juice.

 Not all the kitchens are functioning at full capacity.  Some feed only four days a week and others serve only one meal per day.  Each kitchen has a pastor and his wife along with a kitchen leader.  The objective is to involve the mothers to take on the duties to run the kitchen effectively. 

We visited a kitchen located in the Colonia Tierra y Libertad.   Consuelo is the lead mother in charge of this kitchen.  She has 19 mothers under her who form six teams, and each team cooks one day a week.  She has to create the schedule, communicate with the mothers, assure there is ample food, supervise and lock up. The lead mothers are paid by the church with food and clothes.  Consuelo stated that she enjoys working with the mothers to help the kids and will be involved here until she no longer can.  Her kitchen feeds around 100 to 150 per day.   On that day, eggs and sausage sandwiches, watermelon and juice were served for lunch to around 70 kids and a few mothers.  Before serving the food, Lupe lead the children in a few games, sang Christian songs, and read a passage from the bible.  Yolanda, a mother with a newborn baby and a three year old, commented that she is thankful that the Americans help to provide food, and she now has new insights about life in general.  Dolores, another mother, stated that she has learned about being a Christian and attends on Fridays because she is on the schedule to cook, but her five kids come every day. 

A record is kept of everyone the kitchen feeds.  To be on the list, you must have a federal I.D. number or CURP, and sign in when you attend.  If you are under 12 a fingerprint is accepted.  As a result the church has helped register many children, so they can obtain their CURP.  The records are then sent to the governmental agency SEDESOL, Secretary of Social Development.  This agency doesn’t like for the records to show too many needy children, preferring that list be around 120.  Many times there are 200 or more children on the list. 

Working with such a needy population, Tony and Lupe understand that they can’t do everything.  They try to stay focused on feeding the kids, educating the mothers through workshops, and supporting the education of the children.  The church supports education by providing school uniforms, backpacks, notebooks, and tuition. 

If you would like to visit a kitchen in action firsthand, contact: flck@cabochurch.org.  

When Cabo Church visitors go to the barrios to see a food kitchen in action, many visitors donate monetarily, or purchase food for these kitchens.  The Cabo Church is thankful for those who make financial commitments to this ministry.  It takes around $10,000 a year to supply food to one kitchen.  Donations are U.S. tax exempt and go directly to the ministry of Feeding Los Cabos Kids.  Yes, that’s right, U.S. tax exempt.  Donations can be mailed to:  US (Flat) Mail:  Cabo Church,  303 Magnolia Drive,  Laguna Beach, CA 92651.  USA IRS 501c (3) EIN: 20-3743267

For more information follow them on Facebook: Feeding Los Cabos Kids or call USA Vonage phone: 949.226.7088 Skype: 949.226.7088 Local Mexican: 624.143.4288.