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'Someone Has To Do It': Dallas Organizations Provide Hot Meals To Residents Impacted By Winter Storm

Feed The People Dallas.jpg
Courtesy of Crys Shaw with Sunrise Movement Dallas
Volunteers with the coalition, Feed The People Dallas is are loading boxes food supplies into the a van to take to Borjas Cocina Mexican.

This weekend, people were walking in and out of Dallas' Borjas Cocina Mexicana restaurant like North Texas hadn’t gone through an unrelenting deep freeze last week — except these weren’t regular customers. Instead, the people were volunteers and organizers who are trying to provide food, supplies and shelter to North Texas communities hit hard by last week's storms. A coalition of Black and brown-led organizations, headed by Feed The People Dallas, is behind the effort.

“You got the cutting board? What about the knives? So what are we going to make?” yells out 30-year-old Orlando Garcia.

The North Dallas resident spent the night calling churches, restaurants and recreational centers asking them to please lend their kitchens so members of the coalition could cook hot meals to distribute.

Les voy ayudar a cocinar, Angel Borjas, owner of Borjas Cocina Mexicana, said in Spanish. “I agreed and I am going to help them cook.”

Garcia said that after more than 10 calls, Borjas was the only one to agree to help.

The mutual aid coalition is made up of more than 10 organizations, most of them led by women of color. They include, Feed the People Dallas, Sunrise Movement Dallas, LatinXDallas and others.

Borjas, who’s originally from Monterrey, Mexico said even though his restaurant isn’t even open due to remodeling, he really wanted to help people in his community.

Es bueno hacer algo bueno por los demás. Entre más rápido mejor, he said in Spanish. “It is good to do something for others and with more people the better and faster.”

In the kitchen, reggaeton artist Bad Bunny is blasting while volunteers chop vegetables to make bacon cheese burgers, fries, picadillo, rice, salad, yogurt parfaits and fruit cups.

Feed The people Dallas cooking.jpg
Courtesy of Cry Shaw with Sunrise Movement Dallas
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Two volunteers, Molly Faricy, founder of LatinxDallas on the right, chop vegetables to get ready for cheese burgers they will later distribute to underse4rved families impacted by last week's winter storm.

The coalition has been relying strictly on social media to get the word out about their services. That’s where they find cooks, drivers and donors. Community groups like the Harvest Project Food Rescue and The Oak Cliff Veggie Project are the main source of produce.

Many grocery stores in Dallas are “cleaned out,” Garcia said.

Last week's snow storm opened his eyes to the immediate need to help the most vulnerable, Garcia said. Many residents feel abandoned by the government.

“We are trying to do what the government won't do," he said. "We are trying to help each other out.”

The mutual aid coalition created a google form that people who need food can fill out. Organizers get the request and once the food is ready, they map out all the delivery locations and assign about three to five addresses to volunteer drivers through Instagram.

Feed the people Dallas 2.jpg
Alejandra Martinez
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KERA
Volunteer Michelle Kiang delivers food to James Gipson, who's gone three days without power and now has no running water.

Volunteer Michelle Kiang, a teacher at Richardson ISD, showed up to the Mexican restaurant ready to lend a hand. She found out about the mutual aid coalition through Instagram.

“Luckily I wasn’t affected in any way so once it got safe to leave my house of course I wanted to come out here and help,” Kiang said.

She's from Houston and has only been living in North Texas for a few months.

Kiang maneuvered her silver Honda Pilot SUV through slippery, icy Dallas streets, her car packed with seven family meals.

Her first stop was 33-year-old Dallas resident James Gipson’s apartment building in downtown.

“I haven't been to work at all because of the storm," Gipson said. "You know, trying to see how to get ends to meet. The check it's probably going to be short this week.”

He was without electricity for three days and still didn’t have water Sunday. Many pipes had burst in his building and property owners were scrambling to fix them.

“It’s been kind of rough of over here,” he said. “This [the food] is much of a needed help so I'm grateful.”

Like Gispon, 20-year-old Perla Gimenez was desperately waiting for food. She found out about the coalition through Twitter.

“I don’t have food because I don't drive and my mom doesn't drive," Giminez said. "Everywhere it was full of ice. Everything was closed and food was running out."

Gimenez said groups like Feed The People Dallas have felt like a lifeline for her family. She lives with her mother and said this would be her first meal of the day.

A lot of the organizers have their own problems at home — no electricity or water — but they are helping each other out by staying at each other’s apartments, and offering warm showers to friends in need.

“Someone has to do it. We will continue helping,” LatinxDallas food director Molly Faricy said. “This is what we always do just at a different scale.”

As of Sunday evening, the coalition had fed over 400 families. Organizers say their biggest need is water.

Many of these organizations are looking for donations. Here’s How You Can Help:

Feed the People Dallas
Venmo: FeedThePeopleDallas
CashApp: $feedthepeopledtx

Sunrise Movement Dallas
Venmo: @SunriseDallas
CashApp: $SunriseDallas

LatinXDallas
Venmo: @LatinxDallas
CashApp: $LatinxDallas

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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