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Mama's Kitchen delivers its 11 millionth meal

Friday was a big day for Thomas Willaredt. He’s received meals from Mama’s Kitchen for 15 years — but not until now has the delivery made by the Mayor of San Diego and the CEO of Mama’s Kitchen. Willaredt was the recipient of the 11 millionth meal delivered by Mama's Kitchen.

“I feel very grateful and blessed that I’ve been able to be part of this," Willaredt said.

Mama’s Kitchen was founded in 1990 at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It’s been delivering meals ever since, but it’s expanded over the years. The non-profit now serves people with other critical illnesses; cancer, heart disease, type two diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

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“None of what we do is done by any individual or just the organization," Alberto Cortes, CEO of Mama's Kitchen, said.

Cortes has been at the helm of Mama’s Kitchen for more than 20 years. He’s the first to tell you that it survives due to the generosity of San Diegans.

“From a financial perspective, the preponderance of dollars that come into the organization are individual contributions from San Diegans that believe in our mission. We are also dependent on volunteers who make our mission happen," Cortes said.

A mission brought in bags — containing three days worth of food, delivered twice a week.

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Roland Lizarondo
/
KPBS
The contents of the 11 millionth meal delivered to Thomas Willaredt are shown on Dec. 16, 2022.

Like every meal for all of their clients, the 11 millionth one was nutritionally tailored for Willaredt.

“I’m diabetic. I have certain medications that do certain things and they tailor the food to that... They put certain fruits in there that I need, I get no sweets...  It’s great.  It’s really good food," Willaredt said.

For Mayor Gloria, Friday’s milestone was a moment to relish some civic pride.

“It’s just a quintessential example of San Diegans coming together and having an impact and not just concerning themselves with a narrow interest that may be relevant to them," Gloria said.

As for Willaredt, he’ll enjoy his nutritious meals and he’ll go on doing what he does; volunteering at a facility that helps people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

“For people helping me, I’m trying to help other people… a paying it forward type thing," he said.

Roland Lizarondo
/
KPBS
Meal recipient Thomas Willaredt is shown on the left with Mama's Kitchen CEO Alberto Cortes and Mama's Kitchen staff on Dec. 16, 2022.