Friday, June 14, 2024

Lake Chapala steps up: A Covid-19 Resource Guide

Dispensa (dehs-pehn-sah) – literally meaning pantry, this is a commonly used term for a packet of essential staple goods such as milk, rice, beans, oil, cereal, toilet paper, oatmeal, eggs and other basic items.

By Adelle Morgan-Cordero, 19 April 2020, Last updated 22 June 2020

Lakeside Chapala has always been known for its sense of community. Dozens of philanthropic organizations — consisting largely of retired expats — exist to help the blind, the poor, the handicapped, or others in dire need.  However, thanks largely to social media, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought community support at the grassroots level to a phenomenol and unprecedented high.

As the pandemic lockdown enters its second month, many enterprises labeled “non-essential” have been forced to close down during the health crisis. In Mexico, the average worker lives hand-to-mouth, and frequently has no savings or other source of income. Obviously, the health emergency measures have created a tremendous hardship for the area’s now unemployed and low income families.

Fortunately, a large number of individuals, groups and organizations are all pitching in to help make sure that no one goes hungry. The following, in no particular order beyond main category, is a resource guide to those who are working to keep families fed, clothed and healthy. Included is contact info and a description of how to get assistance, or participate and provide badly needed support.



No matter where you live at Lakeside, you are being invited to partner with your local abarrotes (neighborhood grocery store) in locating and feeding the ten barrio families most in need.  This program is similar to the Fondo Super Vecinos described above. It entrusts the identification of these families to the local abarrotes owners who are most familiar with the needs and financial circumstances of their regular customers.

In conjunction with the Abarrotes Ayudanos program, each local neighborhood abarrotes will compile and distribute despensas to these families.  Each despensa package is based on 100 pesos of food staples, hygiene products, breakfast items, and fruits and vegetables.  You are asked to make donations to help cover the cost of these despensas, and spread the word of this program among your friends and contacts.  

This $800,000-peso program was created by the Chapala City Council to deliver food to 1000 malecón merchants or registered street vendors in the municipality who have been out of work for a month or more. Delivery of first 1000 food baskets has already begun, with additional baskets scheduled to be delivered every two months.

The program also includes distribution of 1,000 chickens and 1,000 kilos of beef and pork  to 5,000 households in the Chapala area.  The program is financed by a percentage of public officials’ wages plus donations from the private sector.  More information (in Spanish) can be found HERE

AMERICAN LEGION POST 7 in Chapala is taking food and household goods donations and they have a box for drop-offs right inside their door. Their website is

Highly recognized local artist Efren Gonzalez is auctioning off various original watercolor paintings each week to raise fund to help out-of-work construction workers, musicians, gardeners, house keepers, elderly people and other famililies in need.

Funds from the first two auctioned watercolors provided food to 67 families.  Bidding on Efren Gonzalez’ watercolor (an example shown at right) is in progress. Each weekly auction ends on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Caremongering is a large, umbrella group for sharing and organizing various community resources in response to COVID-19.

The goal of this group is to organize the local community on the grassroots level to ensure vulnerable

 community members have access to food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities. It is also for the redistribution of resources when stockpiling prevents people from accessing basics.

Requests for information, aid, support and needs can be posted on the Caremongering en Las Riberas – Buenas Acciones Facebook page. Please share any opportunities/events that may be helpful to the support of community members! All kinds of mutual aid and support posts are welcome. Caremongering admins are Christine Philipson, Doña Pituka and Mark Horodecky.

CHAPALA APADRINA is a group that works in the local community collecting food, money, and medical supplies for individuals desperately in need of assistance. Contact them thru facebook.

What the name suggests, this recently formed facebook page is a liaison between the municipal government and the expat community, offering official news, updates and community service endeavors. For Information, contact Additionally, donations can be dropped off at Manix Ajijic restaurant in an envelope marked “Dispensas”


The owners of the long-established neighborhood supermarket Super La Huerta in Ajijic West are compiling and distributing despensas to area families they know are now in need. Their first despensa went out to 18 families and was mostly non-perishables and basics.  They are hoping their next despensa will include more meat and vegetables.

Like many of these grassroots community efforts, this one is based on trust, the honor system, and simple but genuine concern for their neighbors. Longtime customers of Super La Huerta attest to the honorable actions of the supermarket’s owners, and ask that donations be made at the supermarket.

In response to the unprecedented economic impact of COVID-19, 80 volunteers from the Mexican and foreign communities have banded together forming Foodbank Lakeside, a member of CareMongering en Las Riberas. to provide weekly food staples for our neighbors who have been impacted by the Covid-19 slowdown. The average cost is approximately $277 per family. 

FoodBank Lakeside is working with small local stores (abarrotes) to create weekly packages of food and cleaning products (despensas). They are following social distancing practices along with scheduled pick-up times to minimize the spread of this pandemic.

Volunteers help identify and prioritize families most in need. Area residents/groups who are giving out despensas are asked to submit the list(s) that they have to Rachel Arias, Tel (376) 763-5185, email (Rachel is bilingual.) Rachel will assist in ensuring there is no duplication so more families can receive food.

Please consider making a weekly or monthly contribution …
Paypal Donations (USD):
PayPal Donations (CAD):
Cash Donations – Email Us:
To Volunteer – Fill Out This Form:

FOUNDATION ALÉGRATE CHAPALA, A. C., a recent addition to the Resource Guide, has reportedly funded 650 despensas containing 8 food staples to be distributed locally to people in need.  The foundation also has hot meals Tuesday to Thursday in the community of Ajijic and the placement of a collection center at Fco. I. Madero #236 in Chapala.

Funds for these programs come from private sources, along with the donation of 100% of their salaries by councillors Alejandro Aguirre Curiel and Lilia Alvarado.

Foundation volunteers ask the public to help support people without income. To identify a person needing food, call 331-337-7924, or bring donations of cash or food to the collection center designated above.

JAIME BARBIERY DECORATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY is matching 100% his sales to purchase Chapala despensas. His various decorative photographic images are reproduced on fabric and stretched over a lightweight frame for easy hanging.  An example is shown at right.  Contact Jaime at his Facebook page for more details. 

JALISCO SIN HAMBRE (Jalisco Without Hunger) is a collaboration between ITESO (the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente), the government, area businesses and foodbanks, and various universities, whose efforts are aimed at diminishing hunger in Jalisco. See more information on their Jalisco Sin Hambre Facebook page.


The Municipality of Jocotepec has allocated $600,000 pesos for up to 6,000 despensas to be delivered to out-of-work individuals in the area. Most of the funds are being donated by local businesses and individuals, with some being donated by city council members.

Food items should be taken to the Jocotepec DIF, located next to the town hall. Monetary donations should be made to “Aportación Contingencia Covid-19” via the Municipal Treasury. Contact them at (387) 763-2470, ext. 105.    


As of mid-September, this small group of volunteers has ceased providing despensas to Mexicans to four remote pueblos at the west end of Lake Chapala. Their team of 10 people raised $175,182 pesos and distributed 1531 despensas over  3-month period. They are to be commended for their service to the community.

Juan Mata, owner of Rangers BBQ headquartered in El Salto employs 20 workers and has been donating tamales and other smoked meat meals to area Police and first responders, La Ola Girls Home, Casa Varones orphanage for boys, and, along with Valerie Abernathy, the Villa Infantil orphanage, among others.

Recently, he donated 14 dozen tamales to the Help Caro to Walk fundraising campaign, which earned $8150 in sales and donations. One hundred persent of the proceeds went entirely to Carolina Lopez, the young local woman needing two full hip replacements.  (Read her amazing story on this site here.) 

Juan delivers his meals and vacuum-sealed smoked meats to the Lakeside area. He also brings items from Costco to local residents. His is a familiar face at local Farmer’s Market, and he won the 2019 People’s Choice Award for best barbeque. To help him continue his work on behalf of the community, or ask for something from Guadalajara, contact Juan Mata via Facebook.

This small but popular store behind the main Mercado in Chapala Plaza, is helping combat hunger by making and donating 25 sandwiches daily. To sign up, go to their Facebook page at Mi Ranchito Cremeria.

As a long-established organization based in San Juan Cosalá, Operation Feed’s goal is to increase self sufficiency by providing weekly despensas, medicine, money and support and educational or income opportunities for people of limited resources. Their web site is at

PADILLA IVAN CESAR is a local resident using funds raised through donations and meal sales prepared and delivered from his restaurant kitchen to buy despensa items which he then packages and delivers to poor families in Chapala, Mezcala, Santa Cruz de la Soledad, San Juan Tecomatlan, Tlachichilco, San Pedro Itzcan.

Although there is no group association or oversight, he freely invites Facebook readers accompany him and observe the delivery of free goods to needy families. He is also doing Shopping, pickup and delivery of items from Costco.  Call him at 332-799-4019 or email

Mexicans and Expats alike ban together deliver hundreds of Solidarity Care Packages (basic food and necessities) to area families with little or no income. The group accepts donations and then goes to Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara to purchase the dispensa supplies at lowest cost. Led by Catherine-Claire Blythe, Noemí Beltrán and Jessica Banda. To donate go to:


A community-wide project led by Rony Clygnet and Rosalinda Dhenery in conjunction with the Chapala DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia ) . Last week, they were able to help between 300 and 400 families in Chapala and Santa Cruz.

“Needy people were already waiting in line at 7 am for pick up at noon,” reported Rony. “Just to show you how big the needs are, it was a line of several blocks!” For more information, go to Rony Clygnet facebook page.

TEPEHUA COMMUNITY CENTER is distributing food to 200 families.  It has reportedly so far given away 200+ tons of food and essential supplies to families in need. In addition to typical despensa items, the Center is soliciting support for the Center’s Maternal Health Program. Items such as powdered milk, formula, baby food, diapers and other sanitary items are needed.

Donations can be made via Paypal to Tepehua Centro Comunitario AC.  A “Donate” button can also be found on the Center’s web site at  For more information, email The Center is also sewing and selling face masks (see information in HOMEMADE MASKS section below). 


APOLLO 2020 (Support Your Local Merchant)
Numbered gift certificates for future redemption are being offered through this group in hopes of helping merchants survive until the Covid-19 crisis has passed and they can reopen for business. The participating merchants will display a sticker on their store front with the APOLLO 2020 logo.

For more information see Lizzie Baxter Conover’s 4/15/2020 post on ChapalaTown facebook page.  To participate and learn more about this project, contact Roberto Serrano at WhatsApp 33 1428 4180 or email at, or Michael Searles at 376-766-0826 or email at

COVID-19 JALISCO PLAN is a government-sponsored economic support package aims to minimize job loss for micro and small businesses. Financial support will consist of an interest-free loan at a rate to be used for wages of workers registered with IMSS. Repayment of the loan will need to begin in 6 months in 18 monthly installments.  To register and request the financial support, this electronic processing portal has been enabled. This program also included the distribution of 27,000 dispensas to low-income households.

MUJERES LÍDERES DEL HOGAR – If you are a single mother and you do not have any financial support to support your children, contact the Jalisco state government site for Women Household Leaders, where you can be apply to receive a monthly aid of $1800 pesos per child.

OUT-OF-WORK MUSICIAN’S FUND  Francis Dryden, author of the weekly entertainment newsletter Keep It Live at Lakeside (now in its 7th year), and fellow musician Paul Brier have been collecting funds to help our area’s professional Mexican musicians that have been out of work since early in the quarantine measures. They have compiled a list of musicians whose livelihood and families depend on their now non-existent gigs, and have already made a sizeable dispersement.

Should you wish to donate, contact Francis Dryden on Facebook, or make a transfer of funds as shown below:
– Transfer from a Mexican bank:
BBVA Bancomer S.A., Lopez Mateos 2084, Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico C.P. 45046
Account (Clabe): 012320001641871051 Moneda: MXNRecipient: O’Rourke & Asociados, S.A. de C.V.
Reference #: 5057575
– Wire Transfer from a bank outside of Mexico:
Same as above Plus Swift Code: BCMRMXMMPYM
Reference #: 5057575

As a means of thriving despite the pandemic crisis, the Ministry of Economic Development is offering free online e-commerce training. For more information, or to register, visit the web site. 


BAMBU WARRIORS, led by Deborah Kruger, are working with two local sewing workshops to keep up with the demand for their carbon-filtered masks. Three deliveries take place each week, To order masks, please use Bambú Warriors’ online order form . Feedback, communication and orders can also be sent by email to And do not forget to visit the Bamú Warriors Facebook page for updates.

PRIVATE TESTING: Dra. Lupita Cevallos, with the Jalisco Secretaria de Salud, is coordinating private COVID-19 testing. If you have symptoms, she says please contact her, they will come to you, and it is completely confidential. It is 5500 pesos including transportation to the lab in Guadalajara.
Office: 6881244 / Cel or Whatsapp 331-229-6265; Email:

PUBLIC TESTING: For testing via the public health system, call the Chapala Red Cross at (376) 765-2308. They will send someone to your home to see if you qualify for the test. Four testing sites have now been authorized in Jalisco, with the capacity to carry out 500 PCR tests daily. Test results will be returned in 24-72 hours. Medical personnel are now being routinely tested every 15 days.

“Drive-thru” testing is being done in Guadalajara where the individual(s) being tested can remain in their car. To schedule this type of testing, which takes about 10 minutes, call 333-540-3001. This number can accept up to 1400 calls a day.

INDIVIDUALS (partial list):
     – Beatriz Guerrero-Rodgers (also selling disinfectants) – See Facebook
     – Sasha Elizabeth Conway – See Facebook
     – Lidia Ramirez Zapien – See Facebook
     – Vanessa Palacios Reynaga, Ixtlahuacán, 331-359-8542

MEDICAMENTO REGALADO EN CHAPALA Y MUNICIPIOS is a Facebook group helps you find or give away needed pharmaceuticals. Check out their page on Facebook.

SEW GOOD STORE, an offshoot of Operation Feed, the sewing team of 11 women earn are supporting their extended families (currently numbering 87 people) by making and selling masks and other items.  In many cases, the men are learning to be house-husbands while the women are sewing.  They are ensuring that their parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers all have enough food to survive this crisis. All proceeds earned from a sale goes to the team or the individual seamstress. Contact them through Facebook.

TEPEHUA COMMUNITY CENTER sewing team are hard at work at home sewing masks of 100% cotton, washable, reusable and lots of fabric choices. These are available on Saturdays in front of Pancho’s Deli in Riberas, 11am-1pm. The center can be contacted at their Tepehua Community Center Facebook page. 100% of the proceeds from these masks go to the women of the low-income Tepehua neighborhood in Chapala and their families.


In searching for news related to the Covid-19 pandemic, posts are everywhere on the web. Unfortunately they include a lot of rumors and misinformation. Readers are advised to be thorough and discriminating with any reported news. Below are some recommended outlets in English for Mexico and the local area:

CHAPALA HEALTH TALK is a Facebook page where the source(s) of all content is verified prior to posting.

GUADALAJARA REPORTER Online by subscription, free digital version currently available. Access articles at

LAKE CHAPALA REPORTER Full access to the articles on this site is by paid subscription; however their free access emailed newsletter and their sister Facebook pages at Lake Chapala Reporter and Lake Chapala News both contain headline news that can be helpful even without a subsctiption.

MEXICO NEWS DAILY in English is a popular site for Mexico news. They adept subscriptions, but a great deal of information can be accessed free. Just go to their site.  

MISC ENGLISH FB PAGES containing a mix of general information and comments can be found at numerous other Facebook pages in addition to those listed elsewhere in this guide. These include: Lakeside Out & About, Everything Lake Chapala and Ajijic, ChapalaTown, Gringos Ajijic & Lakeside, Chapala Expat Liaison, and Mujeres del Lago, to name just a few.

MISC SPANISH FB PAGES offering excellent news updates in Spanish include: Semanario Laguna, Enrique Alfaro Ramirez, Gobierno de Jalisco, Proteccion Civil Jalisco, and Covid 19 Mexico. The various Guadalajara newspapers are also a good resource for news articles in Spanish.

WORLDOMETERS is one of the most up-to-date and comprehensive sites on the web. It includes detailed information on all countries, and (by clicking on the country) sometimes by state. To view, go HERE


CHURCH VIRTUAL SERVICES include the following. Be sure to check with your place of worship to see if they are also offering online services.

– Abundant Life Assembly AG, San Antonio Tlay. See Bible Study and services online here

– Christ Church, services via Zoom. Email for instructions on how to join in.

– Lake Chapala Baptist, find recent services on their YouTube channel 

– Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation Shabbat services on Zoom, online here.

– Lakeside Community Fellowship online here

– Lakeside Presbyterian Church has a feeding ministry and services online here

– Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís, Chapala, online here

– Parroquia San Juan Bautista, San Juan Cosala, broadcasts every evening over loud speaker.

– Saint Mark’s Anglican, Guadalajara, live stream service every Sunday at 10:30; or watch recorded video any time. 

– Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, services via Zoom. See their website ( for instruction on how to join in.  


With many people out of work or some expats quickly returning to Canada or the US, a number of dogs are being abandoned or left behind at local shelters. The following individuals are trying to care for these homeless animals and need support.

AMAR ADOPTA LA MAGIA, a non-profit Small Animal Rescue center located south of the Guadalajara airport offers adoptions and fundraising events. They typically have around rescued 25 dogs and cats on-site, all needing a home. For more details, see the Facebook page AmarGdl, or contact Andrea, who is bilingual, at (331) 159-5430 or email   

BONE VOYAGE founder Cari LeClair has sent over 500 dogs to homes in the US and Canada. Of course all that has halted or greatly slowed now, but the organization continues to get calls about dogs and puppies in dire need. She is desperately looking for fosters and donations. To help, go to the Bone Voyage web site  or contact Cari LeClair through her facebook page.

LAKESIDE FRIENDS OF THE ANIMALS and its Cat Shelter is in operation and helping however they can. Donations are always needed. Contact them at (376) 765-5544 or see their Facebook page.

THE MEXIMUTT PROJECT Animal Rescue led by Catherine-Claire Blythe and Angela Adams, is presently boarding and caring for more than 20 dogs. They are in desperate need of fosters and donations. Contact them at the Meximutt Facebook page or donate via PayPal to:

PET FOOD BANK, run by newcomer Julie Wittmann, distributes dog and cat food to Mexican families in the hope that they can continue to keep their much loved pets in their home. Julie’s group is buying food in bulk, repackaging it in gallon size bags and distributing to families Lakeside. You can reach Julie via Facebook messenger here, if you’d like to help.

SOS CHAPALA DOG RESCUE, relies entirely on community donations for funds to rescue dogs from abusive situations. If you would like to volunteer or donate, please email SOSChapalaDog Fore more information contact Linda Rudisell-Hines on Facebook, or see the group’s Facebook page SOS anomal Chapala.  

STRAY DOGS OF MEXICO IXT, founded and operated by Flor Fowler, has served the area for over 13 years. Today, in her care there are typically between 20 and 30 dogs that need food, medical treatment, and permanent or foster homes. If you would like to make a donation, go to or contact Flor Fowler at the Stray Dogs of Mexico Ixt facebook page.

THE RANCH, Lakeside’s no-kill dog shelter, is nearly full. Fosters, adopters and donations are needed. Most volunteers have been asked to remain home, but a skeleton staff of three is giving basic care to the dogs. To contact them, go to their Facebook page or their web site.


Many local restaurants have begun on-site pickup or delivery services in an attempt to serve the community and survive the pandemic health crisis. Other essential businesses, such as grocery outlets and pharmacies, are also now offering home delivery. Some links to some of these services are:

Delivery Lakeside offers advertising posts with reviews and commentaries from users. Find them on Facebook.

Lakeside Guide to Home Delivery of Food and Other Services is an excellent, user-friendly guide featuring information of 150+ local businesses. The Guide can be accessed HERE

Pancho’s Deli Market is offering free home delivery throughout the area. His store, located on the highway in Riberas del Pilar, carries a wide variety fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, cold cuts, household items, groceries and imported items. He also delivers prepared meals. Visit his web site or his facebook page for more information.

Traitte is a delivery service serving Chapala, Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Santa Cruz De La Soledad, San Nicolás De Ibarra and nearby areas. Costs for delivery are paid by the recipient and determined by distance. Participating businesses also pay a monthly subscription fee (temporarily waived) and have their menus or options posted on the Traitte web site.  Information is also available on the Traitte facebook page.  A cell phone app is also available.

Walmart is offering free home delivery or on-site pickup. Orders can be placed through Walmart’s online store. Some customers report fairly prompt and efficient service, while others comment that orders were never compiled or delivered. It is possible they are having trouble dealing with an uncommonly large number of orders.


A number of individuals are offering to buy and deliver goods locally or from nearby Guadalajara sources such as Costco.  With Covid-19 cases steadily growing in the city, and screening checkpoints causing lengthy delays in travel time, these local individuals are providing a valuable service. Below is a partial list:


– Eats Delivery by Rafael is a local pickup, delivery, shopping or errand service with very reasonable prices. Contact Rafael, who is bilingual, by whatsapp or phone at 332-406-8328.

– Marcello Ramos-Gibson is offering to shop and home-deliver needed items from Costco, and local outlets such as Pancho’s, Soriana, Tony’s, Walmart, etc. For details call 333-175-8651 or message through Facebook.

– Miguel’s Delivery Service offers delivery every Tuesday and Friday from Costco, Sams, Home Depot.  Place your orders in advance, and pay upon delivery. Contact Miguel vía Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, phone (331-659-1017) or email at

– Omar Medina, listed on Facebook as Ommi Medina, is offering delivery of supplies, food, medicines, etc. He is bilingual and can be reached via Facebook or by cell at 331-281-2818.

– Thumbs Up Driver Services posts that they can run your errands, do a grocery pick-up locally or in Guadalajara, or provid whatever help you need.  They ask that you call 332-823-1507, or contact them through their Facebook page.

– WideEyed Mexico offers a one-ton van and Guadalajara shopping services with strictest control of handling of goods to Lakeside people 70 and older. For more information, contact Carlos Martinez Escalona on Facebook.


– Chapala Gobierno Municipal is offering transportation for health-related services for elderly or high-risk individuals. Call 333-599-3041 for information. Some fluency in Spanish or someone onhand to help translate is recommended.

– Miguel Zamora & his team of taxi drivers include English speakers in need of work. Call Miguel at 333-808-8038 to arrange a ride.

– Paulino Contreras,  a local taxi driver for many years, will shop for and deliver items from Costco, Home Depot, and other  outlets.  He charges $300 pesos for this service, and posts that his car is stocked with surgical gloves, antibacterial gel, etc. He can be reached by email at or cell at 331-406-8685.

– Smokehouse Ajijic is offering to make your Guadalajara purchases at Costco, Sam’s and Mercado de Abastos, no cost during quarantine, although a donation will be greatly appreciated. Send your shopping list to their Facebook page.  Be sure to include your name and phone number.

 *   *   *

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This Resource Guide started out as an typical article, but the more I researched all that our community is doing, the more it grew … and grew … and grew!

In the process, I came to some interesting conclusions. Yes, our area has its’ fair share of grumps, at times seemingly spoiling for a fight. But for every negative, complaining critic, I found at least five to ten positive, caring people — both  expats and Mexicans — willing to step up and help their neighbors in any way possible.

For some it has been donations of money or food, for others it is doing volunteer work. For most (not all!), it has at least been wearing masks, observing precautions, or merely hunkering down in isolation and giving their domestic workers paid leave. In general, combining positives and negatives, I saw an commendably pro-active area exhibiting a sense of community almost unheard of these days.

I know many individuals or group resources were overlooked. I did my best with limited research time and an almost non-existent internet connection. At some point I just had to go with what I’d accumulated! So, I ask you to please send me updates, corrections and additions so that I can make this guide as accurate and comprehensive as possible. Just PM me, Adelle Cordero, through FB messenger.

I offer my sincere thanks and kudos to all that helped me by providing information and tips. It is people like you that make our community the envy of many others throughout the world.