NEW YORK – There’s a small fridge on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill stocked with 50 prepared meals. On a cold November day, residents know where they can find a delicious and free dinner.
“Sometimes we don’t have enough food,” explains Blanca Martinez, who lives nearby.
“It’s good food,” adds Irma Perez, who stopped by to grab a container.
“A lot of the people in our community know which days we’re delivering Tacombi so there’s excitement around it,” explained Nata Andresen, one of the volunteers stocking the fridge.
Asmeret Berhe-Lumax, founder of “One Love Community Fridge,” says she’s seen the need for these fresh meals grow since the pandemic began.
“Not everyone has access to not just food, but also healthy nutritional food, that would allow them to be productive citizens,” she says.
But before the food is delivered to this community, it is picked up by volunteers from Tacombi Taqueria. The chain of Mexican restaurants in New York, Washington D.C., and Miami has started a charitable foundation to share what they do best — delicious food. In March 2020, they started a community kitchen program to help provide some relief.
“Since we started the program, we have donated over 500,000 meals,” says Susana Camarena, head of the Tacombi Foundation.
Several times a week, staff at the restaurants prepare these meals, which often consist of rice, beans, meat, and vegetables — traditional Mexican ingredients to satisfy and satiate the Hispanic communities they aim to help.
“We do either plates or burrito options, and we do different protein options,” says Jonathan Barragan, Master Taquero.
Staff say each week across 14 of their locations, they cook, package and donate 6,000 of these meals to community organizations, which then distribute them to the people who need them most.
They’ve even gotten help from Lyft, which has been providing free rides for volunteers to deliver the meals from the restaurant to their final destination.
“We didn’t want transportation to be a barrier to receive services and goods from organizations like Tacombi Foundation,” says Larry Gallegos, Lyft Community Strategist.
“Our meals are culturally sensitive, which means that we know that these meals are not only feeding bellies but also souls of the people that are receiving them,” says Camarena. “They will feel a sense of normalcy in their lives and they know this is comfort food for them.”
The Tacombi Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Tacombi Taqueria, which was founded in Playa de Carmen in Mexico in 2006.
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