Mama's Day is the organization's annual fund-raiser that gathers close to 900 people from all over the county to raise 10 percent of the nonprofit agency's annual revenue, according to Denise Scatena, Mama's Kitchen spokeswoman.
"Many of these restaurants have been participating in this event for many years, so it's nice to see their support, and it's a nice showcase for the up-and-coming restaurants," Scatena said, adding that La Jolla's La Valencia and Trattoria Acqua are a few of the event's veterans. "They all have given a lot and have equally participated and have been really instrumental in helping us out."
Held at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, another longtime event participant that donates its space and employee volunteers for the event, Mama's Day helps the organization deliver free meals to people in San Diego 60 years old or younger whose lives are restricted by illnesses such as cancer.
The organization's board of directors voted last year to expand its services to cater to a wider range of clientele who may be suffering from other debilitating illnesses besides AIDS and HIV, said Melinda Balkom, director of development and communications at Mama's Kitchen.
Mama's Kitchen delivers to more than 315 clients in the city alone and more than 1,500 throughout the county, Balkom said.
Last year, the organization served more than 324,000 hot meals, including its grocery and pantry programs, which provide food for people who can make their own meals but have not been able to find employment due to illness, Balkom said.
This year, Mama's Kitchen may lose about 5 percent of its federal funding because of cuts to the Ryan White CARE Act, giving the organization more reason to continue increasing awareness and generating funds through events such as Mama's Day, Balkom said.
"We try to use this event as an opportunity to get the word out about our organization and just to let people know that we've expanded our services," she said.
For more information, visit www.mamaskitchen.org.