At its one-year milestone, Foodbank Lakeside (FBL) continues itsefforts to combat hunger among disadvantaged families in the north shore region hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, while looking forward to maintaining the dietary assistance program in the months and years to come.
It all started when three dynamic women of different nationalities put their heads together in a moment of crisis to develop outreach and a system for distributing despensas (basic pantry goods) among those desperately in need of sustenance.
They are U.S. citizen Glorine Barnhardt, the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) volunteer who launched its Reaching Out Program; Canadian resident Christine Philipson, originator of the local Covid-19 CareMongering Facebook group; and Ajijic social activist Paola De Watterlot who connected with Barnhardt through LCS president Steve Balfour.
Within days of an initial online meeting, the trio gave birth to the foodbank concept. Larry Barnhardt, Donald Stordahl, Mark Dansson, Patricia Klauer, Marsha Walz Gardner and Leissa Gebert were the first of 61 volunteers who have since joined the cause.
The call for social distancing by local authorities created their first challenge. Knowing they had to come up with a unique approach, FBL started by establishing relationships with local grocery outlets (abarrotes) in Ajijic and San Antonio Tlayacapan to purchase non-perishable food in bulk. Selected products included rice, beans, pasta, oats, oil, milk, eggs and sugar. The food was packaged into portions sufficient for a family of four for a week. Additional items such as bath soap, laundry soap and bathroom tissue were added.