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Rancho Santa Fe resident Dana Black co-chairing Mama’s Kitchen’s 25th annual event

Mama’s Kitchen prepares and delivers meals to men, women and children living with AIDS or cancer.
Photo by Joey Hernandez
Mama’s Kitchen prepares and delivers meals to men, women and children living with AIDS or cancer. Photo by Joey Hernandez

Mama’s Kitchen will host the original San Diego tasting event, the 25th annual Mama’s Day on Friday, May 6 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine.

Brandon and Dana Black are co-chairs of the Mama’s Day event for Mama’s Kitchen.
Light of Love Photography
Brandon and Dana Black are co-chairs of the Mama’s Day event for Mama’s Kitchen. Light of Love Photography

The fundraising event, held the Friday evening before Mother’s Day, features more than 55 chefs from San Diego’s finest restaurants, hotels and catering companies who graciously prepare delicious samples. Participating eateries this year include Snooze, Fig Tree Café, Saltbox, Solace and the Moonlight Lounge, Waypoint Public, Duke’s La Jolla, Hash House A Go Go, Cravory Cookies, Mia Francesca Del Mar, Betty’s Pie Whole, The Red Door and many more.

The tasting event helps to raise critical funds for Mama’s Kitchen’s mission to deliver hot, nutrition-specific meals free of charge to local men, women, and children affected by AIDS or cancer. Last year, the event raised $176,000, which provided 57,680 home-delivered meals.

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Mama’s Kitchen’s mission, like some of the best recipes, is simple and uncomplicated.

“These people end up with debilitating disease and in order to stay on a healthy path, it’s critical for them to be eating nutritious food,” said event co-chair Dana Black, a Rancho Santa Fe resident who serves on the board of directors at Mama’s Kitchen.

The event includes a silent auction with emcee Clint Bell leading the night, reminding attendees why they are all out for the evening. A Mama’s Kitchen client will also share their story.

Event VIP tickets include early entry and an exclusive dining section with a hosted bar and a cooking demonstration with “Sam the Cooking Guy,” a longtime Mama’s Kitchen supporter.

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The event is presented by Nordstrom and hosted by Sycuan Casino.

Black has lived in Rancho Santa Fe for three years. She has been a San Diego resident for 20 years, starting in Poway and steadily migrating west; her last move was the six miles between Del Sur and Rancho Santa Fe.

Black worked as an analytic marketing manager before taking time off to raise her three children. She decided to make a career change and went back to school at the University of San Diego (USD) to get her master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management. After graduating in May 2014, she went into consulting.

Black learned of Mama’s Kitchen while at USD — Mama’s Kitchen was a part of the “pracademia” program, where students essentially do pro-bono work for nonprofits in the community while in school. Black also served alongside Mama’s Kitchen’s executive director Alberto Cortés on the USD Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research advisory board.

Cortés approached Black after she graduated knowing that in the past she had only served on advisory boards and was looking for a chance to serve on a governing board for a grassroots group.

“Mama’s Kitchen has been in San Diego for 20 years but it is really community-based. Eight-hundred volunteers actively deliver meals every year and board members are very involved in the process, I felt like it fit with what I was looking for,” Black said.

Mama’s Kitchen delivers three meals a day, seven days a week free of charge, even on holidays. Clients are referred to the organization by medical providers or caseworkers.

“What always surprises me is the community need, that there are people that are struggling. We have a responsibility to make our community the best that it can be, which means reaching out to help,” Black said. “Everyone is entitled to the basic necessities of life.”

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When Mama’s Kitchen expanded its services to cancer patients, they found that while there were a lot of programs for seniors, there were not a lot of services for individuals under the age of 60. They serve a lot of women with breast cancer who are struggling to cook, work, go to chemotherapy and care for their children.

While very active on the board, Black does deliver meals periodically and spent one Thanksgiving two years ago delivering meals with her then 16-year-old son Trevor. The pair delivered meals to seven clients in the Oceanside area over the course of four hours.

The experience had a big impact on her son, who couldn’t believe the way some people had to live. It made an impact on Black too, when one woman with cancer was so happy just to have someone to talk to. They were feeding a different need as well.

“You feel, in that moment, ‘I know I’m doing something good’. It’s amazing and the people are extremely thankful,” Black said.

In 2015, Mama’s Kitchen delivered 284,925 meals to 394 San Diegans affected by HIV/AIDS; 70,602 meals to 196 San Diegans affected by cancer; and 46,584 meals to 106 children whose parents were affected by HIV/AIDS or cancer.

On Wednesday, March 30, Mama’s Kitchen delivered its 8 millionth meal with the help of San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts.

For over 25 years, Mama’s Kitchen has never turned anyone away who is eligible for services nor has it maintained a waiting list.

General admission tickets are $150, VIP tickets are $250. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. for general admission and 5:30 p.m. for VIP. For tickets or more information, visit mamaskitchen.org.

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