Bakers 3,200: Mama’s Kitchen Sells Out Pies in Key Annual Fundraiser for the Ill

Mama’s Kitchen workers distribute purchased pies for Thanksgiving. Photo by Chris Stone

Move over, pecan pie. Dutch apple and regular apple were the pies figuratively flying off the shelves in the Mama’s Kitchen pie sale this year.

Patrons of the annual sale bought 3,200 Dutch apple, traditional, pumpkin and pecan pies and picked them up at 10 locations just in time for their places among the turkeys and fixings.

All pies are gone, the group announced Sunday on Facebook.

More pumpkin pies were sold because of greater supply. But later pie purchasers may have had to switch to a second choice since apple pies sold so quickly.

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“This pie sale is one of our important fundraising event,” said Mama’s Kitchen CEO Alberto Cortés on Wednesday at the Hillcrest location (Lips Restaurant).

“(It) supports the mission …to address the nutritional needs of people who are living with critical illnesses, like cancer, heart disease, HIV, chronic kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes.”

Cortés said the kitchen’s aim is to provide science-based nutrition that improves people’s prognosis. Meals are served to people with critical illnesses who are mentally or physically unable to prepare meals as a result of their diagnosis. 

Nick Norvell, a first-time pie buyer, said he’s known about the group for a long time and “wanted to support families and people who need meals during the holidays.”

Norvell bought a pecan and a pumpkin pie.

Dutch Apple is the most popular pie ordered this year. Photo by Chris Stone

A woman whose brother died of AIDS 25 years ago drove off with four pies in the passenger’s seat.

She bought the desserts in his memory.

“I’m happy to do it,” said the woman who gave her first name, Jill.

Tom Vinson, who recently moved to the area, said a friend recommended that he support the fundraising effort.

“I think it’s an awesome cause,” he said.

The organization delivered 662,000 free meals to more than 2,000 people last year. Volunteers provide food twice a week, adding up to three meals a day, seven days a week throughout the year.

Established in 1990, Mama’s Kitchen started as a volunteer response to the AIDS epidemic but has expanded to people with other illnesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization responded to an overall 50% increase in demand.

And demand rises each year, he said. No eligible person, however, is turned away.

Supply chain issues have caused Mama’s Kitchen workers to adjust menus this year, Cortés said.

But worse, inflation has forced the organization to pay an additional $250,000 for ingredients.

That in turn makes the organization have to ask the community for more financial assistance.

Those who didn’t buy a pie but want to contribute to feed “those with thinner hope and thinner resources,” can donate here.

Donors can also fund a $32 Holiday Feast that will also provide 12 meals to a client in need during the holiday season.

The organization so far has reached $125,920 of its $145,000 goal.

This year’s bakers included Bear Buns Bakery, Behind the Scenes Catering, Grossmont College, Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, Jenny Wenny Cakes, Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Mook and Pops Culinary Delights, Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar and Pechanga Resort Casino.

Also: San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, San Diego Convention Center, Starry Lane Bakery, Sugar and Scribe, Sycuan Casino Resort, The Wild Thyme Company, TinLeaf Fresh Kitchen, Travel+Leisure and Twiggs Bakery and Coffeehouse.

Sponsors included Sycuan Casino Resort, Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine, Scatena Daniels Communications, Behind the Scenes Catering & Events, Shamrock Foods Company, All Fresh Wholesale and Crinetics Pharmaceuticals.