Dishes With Love

 Dishes With Love

BY PEDRO BENITEZ-CRESPO

Imagine waking up to the throbbing pain of hunger, a sensation that becomes your unwanted companion, your constant shadow. In the midst of abundance, there are those who bear the weight of empty stomachs and dreams clouded by the specter of scarcity.

Food insecurity, a term that can sometimes seem distant or abstract, is a harsh reality for far too many people in this country. It is not only the absence of food on the table but a void that transcends maternal sustenance. It is a loss of dignity, a feeling of helplessness that runs through the soul. Now imagine the pain of parents struggling to put food in front of their children, the pain of not being able to offer them a nutritious meal. Through the eyes of these parents, you can see a mix of desperation and a fierce determination to protect their loved ones from the harsh realities they themselves are facing.

During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many local businesses, Elisabeth Chávez’s catering company temporarily closed. Due to this food crisis, the Chávez catering team was redirected to cook and deliver an average of 150 meals per day, six days a week, for those who didn’t have access to a kitchen or had disabilities that prevented them from cooking for themselves. Knowing that this population would need this kind of support in the long term, Elisabeth Chávez shared this idea with Denisse González, and with her help, the “Platos Con Amor” Community Kitchen was founded in 2020, becoming the first organization of its kind in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur.

Due to the harsh reality many live in, community kitchens are emerging as powerful vehicles for social change, fostering inclusivity, promoting sustainable practices, and addressing pressing issues such as food insecurity. Beyond being spaces to prepare meals, these communal hubs are catalysts for empowerment, education, and the creation of resilient communities. 

“Platos Con Amor” (Dishes with Love in English) is a community kitchen that transcends its culinary functions, acting as a gathering place where people from all walks of life converge. It breaks down social barriers and promotes interaction among diverse individuals. Whether through cooking classes, shared meals, or collaborative food preparation, this community kitchen provides a natural setting for forging new relationships and understanding different backgrounds. It catalyzes collaboration and collective action within the local community. It provides a platform for local organizations, businesses, and volunteers to work together towards shared goals. This collaborative spirit can extend beyond the kitchen, leading to initiatives that address broader social, economic, and environmental challenges. 

“Platos Con Amor” is far more than a space that prepares meals – it is a dynamic hub that empowers individuals, strengthens the Todos Santos’ community and promotes positive change. By providing opportunities for connection, education, skill-building, and social engagement, it plays a vital role in shaping a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society. As this very special space continues to evolve and expand, its impact is bound to be felt far beyond the walls of the kitchen. 

Their mission today is to reduce food insecurity by guaranteeing access to nutritious and healthy food for single mothers, elderly and disabled residents.

Seeking to promote nutritional autonomy through onsite catering and providing educational workshops to the community through volunteering. They do this by providing nutritious homemade meals Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The hours may vary on special occasions and holidays. The meals are provided free of charge with the great support of donors and volunteers which allow everything to happen.  

CAM – Centro de Atención Multiple de la SEP (albergue Francisco Cota) is where the dining room operated by “Platos con Amor” is conveniently located within the community at Horizonte Street, number 21, in the Brisas del Pacífico neighborhood, in the town of Todos Santos. Today they have delivered more than 18,000 meals with the help of more than 50 volunteers, benefiting more than 100 families. 

Let’s feel proud of everyone involved in this noble cause and remember that food insecurity does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of race, age and/or origin. It is a reminder that our world is interconnected and that our empathy should know no limits. As we gather around tables laden with plenty, let’s think of those struggling to find their next meal. Let’s not just offer sympathy, but empathy. Let’s truly walk a mile in their shoes, and feel the pangs of hunger as if they were our own.

In the end, the battle against food insecurity is not just about food, but about restoring dignity and nurturing a world where everyone has the opportunity to prosper. As we extend our hands in compassion, let us not only feed empty stomachs but also feed the human spirit, because it is through our shared humanity that we can truly make a difference.

If you wish to give them a hand, please visit their Volunteer Program on their web page: https://platosconamor.org/volunteer-program/. 

Donations are greatly appreciated and vital to sustaining “Platos con Amor’s” operations. You can contribute by visiting their website where you will find various ways to support them financially, 100% secure at https://platosconamor.org/donations/donations/ or make a contribution through their PayPal account at www.paypal.com/paypalme/PlatosconAmor. it is important to note that they also accept the donation of non-perishable food items and other essentials. 

If you wish to contact them please do so at info@platosconamor.org or give them a call at +52 (612) 127 0455.