Every day, Livier gets up at 5 a.m., prepares her coffee and immediately sends a loving and encouraging group message to her 14 younger siblings who live in Mexico and the United States. She has spent 32 years living in the Bay Area, far from her native Jalisco, Mexico, but she is still connected to her roots.

While sipping a comforting cafe de la olla, Livier begins preparing breakfasts and packing lunches for her six children and her husband. For her, preparing food daily and offering her children homemade meals combines her life’s purpose with her altruistic nature. Livier and her husband discovered that her passion for cooking was only one part of feeding their family. In times of need, allowing others to take care of her is also an act of kindness and self-compassion. She started visiting distribution sites from Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and was overjoyed when she received plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and other nutritious food.

This dish has a very special meaning to me because every time I cook it, it brings me back to my mom’s kitchen. I only cook machaca for special occasions. When I do it, I make a big batch, so I can freeze some of it and use it later for dinner or breakfast.

Livier with Machaca recipe

Livier realized her passion for cooking when she was only 7 years old. She remembers that with the help of a stool, she was able to reach the kitchen counter, where she spent hours watching her mother work with traditional Mexican ingredients and utensils. That’s how she learned to make tortillas. It’s also where she started her culinary journey, preparing food for her 14 siblings, her parents and the occasional guest. Since childhood, Livier has known that she has a special relationship with food which makes her feel alive and connected to those she loves.

Years later and with six children to take care of, “I take advantage of everything that I receive in the distribution,” explains Livier.

This support has allowed her to continue preparing the meals that she loves. Each month, when she receives food from the pantry, Livier reflects about the cycle of generosity; for her, good food enables her to cook for her family through the loving act of kindness.

We met Livier at one of our month-long nutrition workshops at a local library.

“I like going to the nutrition workshops offered by Second Harvest because I can always learn new things. Nutrition advice gets confusing at times, so I like that the information that I get [at the workshops] comes from a reliable source.”

Every day when her husband goes to work, and her children go to their activities, Livier dedicates her time to being active, gardening, and getting involved in her community. These activities recharge her so she’s ready to prepare a new feast. At the end of the day, when everyone comes home after their busy schedules, the family gathers around the table, ready to enjoy a carefully planned meal. Dedication, patience and devotion are always the main ingredients.

“We all have our own special interests and purpose — that thing that moves us and motivates us. To me, it is the ability to feed my family that lets them know that I love them and care about them. It is easy for me to accomplish this through food. I pour my heart and soul into each meal that I prepare for them, and my family knows it. They love my cooking. There is no better reward for me than seeing their satisfaction as they savor the dishes that I prepare for them every day.”

Want to taste Livier’s Machaca? Find her recipe for Savory Mexican Machaca con Huevo in our Nutrition Center.