Cooking for the Community
How a Former Shelter Client Contributes to The Salvation Army's Soup Kitchen
by Eloise Montemayor - Grants Administrator/Public Relations
published July 2016
When Rosa De La Mora enrolled in The Salvation
Army's Shelter Program in June of 2005,
she never imagined she would become the Soup
Kitchen's head cook and supervisor two years
later. "The shelter, dining hall and banquet hall
were full of people because of severe weather,"
De La Mora said as she recollected her first experience
at The Salvation Army's shelter. She
stayed through the stormy days and found herself
volunteering in almost every department
at The Salvation Army (TSA) to keep herself
busy. When the weather was better, she walked
everywhere she could to drop off job applications.
Then, she started selling newspapers to
save money for local bus tickets so she could
go farther into town to submit applications.
"I was never one to pass time at the park," De
La Mora said. "I was always looking for work,
and when I wasn't looking for work, I was volunteering
my time at The Salvation Army."
When she found out that TSA had a cook position
available, she applied and was hired soon
after. She stayed at the shelter for three months
and moved into an apartment with her two
daughters after she saved enough money. De La
Mora kept her part-time position for a year before
becoming a full-time employee. Then, with
the help of TSA advisory board member Joe De
Marino, De La Mora enrolled in a six-month
culinary arts program at South Texas Community
College. Upon completion, she earned her
certificate and eventually became head cook
and supervisor of TSA's Soup Kitchen.
"I have always given all I can through my
work here at The Salvation Army," said De
La Mora. "Til this day my daughters have also
been very active in Salvation Army activities
For the past 11 years, De La Mora, along with
her staff, has helped prepare thousands of meals
for the hungry and homeless. In 2015 alone, the
kitchen served over 75,055 meals for shelter
clients and the community.
Holidays are no exception to normal kitchen
operation hours either. Every Thanksgiving
Day, De La Mora opens the kitchen at 4:00AM.
Assistance from volunteers helps to make it
possible to cook and serve over 1,300 Thanksgiving
Every Wednesday, the kitchen also prepares
dinner, apart from community dinner, for about
60 children who participate in TSA's Youth
Character Building Program.
During emergency situations, the kitchen also
whips up hot meals for first responders and for
those affected by disaster. Recently, the Soup
Kitchen and volunteers prepared and distributed
3,200 meals to the City of Mission's residents
and first responders after severe storms
damaged many homes and left families without
Furthermore, De La Mora and her kitchen
staff have prepared within the last two years
more than 77,973 bowls of chicken soup for
refugees who stop at Sacred Heart's parish hall
in McAllen, TX.
Finally, De La Mora also caters to various
civic groups who rent TSA's banquet hall during
the week and pay $10 per plate to benefit
Salvation Army programs and services.
"God gives me strength," said De La Mora
when asked how she manages the kitchen.
"Volunteers and donations have all been instrumental
in making our feeding program possible,
as well." The Salvation Army receives
food donations from community partners such
as Which Wich and H-E-B. Through a Harvest
Program, the kitchen also receives food donations
from Olive Garden, Starbucks and Chipotle.
In addition, funding from United Way and
Urban County has also made it possible to feed
the homeless and hungry.
Businesses and organizations like Fed Ex
Ground, 1st Patriot Insurance and various Girls
Scout troops have also sponsored food and provided
volunteers to serve it at the kitchen, as
We invite you to partner with us in helping
others. For more information about our programs
and/or partnership opportunities, please
call us at 956.682.1468.
We are located at 1600 N. 23rd St. in McAllen,
TX 78501. To give a monetary donation,
you may send a check payable to The Salvation
Army to the following address:
PO Box 4766, McAllen, TX 78502.