Cooperativa Yumana


Ana and her grandaughter
Ana and her grandaughter wait to
pick up their dispensa






The Cooperativa Yumana was established in September 1998 to begin a program of bringing high-quality, nutritional food to the urban and rural indigenous population in and around Tecate, Mexico. When first started, we soon discovered that we could not establish a true cooperative — where all the members put in their money and then we buy inventory and distribute it back. Because of the payscale in Mexico, over 60% of the people live at or below the poverty level and earn less than $50 per week. They live on the edge and have no extra money.




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Instead of getting the money up front, we had to come up with a different plan. Therefore, the Directors of Peace & Dignity Project put up the money to make sure the people get food. We discovered that by servicing the total population of people in and around Tecate, we could increase our volume. In this way, we were able to increase the amount of food received in each "dispensa." So we expanded our program to include anyone who wanted to buy a dispensa. Povery sees no color or ethnicity.

Checking out the merchandise
Looking at the merchandise for dispensas.


Packed and ready to go Packed and ready to go.

Carlos Pelayo packs food for dispensas
Our Director and co-Founder,
Carlos Pelayo, packing dispensas


The dispensas are packed at the house of our directors, Carlos and Elena Pelayo, until the cooperative can afford to move to a permanent facility. Their truck delivers the food, but is only large enough for 15 dispensas at a time. Unfortunately, the truck was lost to an accident in June of 2002, so now they use their car. We are currently looking for grants and contributions that will augment the process and allow us to operate on a larger scale.

Rough roads to travel
Rough roads are hard to travel during the summer,
and almost impassable in the rainy season.

Beans packed and ready
Beans packed by our volunteers,
ready to be loaded onto the truck.

Each Friday, we work to pack our dispensas and have them ready for distribution on Saturday. The
$250 peso (approximately $26.50 American) dispensa consists of the following:

  • 5 kilos triple-clean pinto beans
  • 5 kilos flour
  • 10 lbs potatoes
  • 2 kilos long-grain rice
  • 1 kilo quick-cooking oats
  • 1 kilo salt
  • 1 kilo sugar
  • 1 liter oil
  • 3 - 12oz cans tomato sauce
  • 4 - cans tuna fish
  • 5 - 200 gram assorted pastas
  • 1 bar face soap
  • 1 kilo laundry detergent
  • 5 packs matches
  • 2 rolls toilet paper (500 leaves)
  • choice of 2 kilos of lard or
    2 liters of oil


Inventory ready to be packed
Inventory outside the door, ready to be packed.

In keeping with our goal of encouraging self-sustainable development, we implemented a commission program. We now have several distributors who earn an average of $10 extra per week to buy more food. More than 90% of the distributors are indigenous, so this also fits in with our mission of promoting the practice and preservation of tradition and culture through self-sustainable development.

Of course, our biggest obstacle has been funding. The coop does not turn a profit at the present time and can barely meet expenses. All of our workers are unpaid volunteers and most of the expenses are paid through the private donations of the directors. To make a private donation or to volunteer in Tecate, please use PayPal:

Rural neighborhood in Tecate

View from the truck window as we
drive toward one of the many
rural neighborhoods in Tecate.