Each month, we’ll be sharing stories of Grubhub Community Relief Fund beneficiaries, highlighting how they are using their grants to positively impact their communities. This month, we’re spotlighting Tacombi Community Kitchen, which prepares and distributes 3,500 meals per week to people impacted by COVID-19.
In this Q&A, Director of Impact and Head of The Tacombi Foundation, Susana Camarena, shares how the grants have helped the program increase its weekly meal donations by 30% during COVID-19.
Introduce yourself and tell us about Tacombi Community Kitchen. How and when was the Tacombi Community Kitchen started and what are your goals?
¡Hola! My name is Susana Camarena and I am Tacombi’s Director of Impact and Head of The Tacombi Foundation. On April 1st, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, The Tacombi Foundation (our 501(c)(3)) launched the Tacombi Community Kitchen (TCK) program with the goal of providing immediate food relief through culturally sensitive, wholesome meals to individuals and families that have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 health and financial crisis.
At the start, Tacombi Community Kitchen began producing approximately 1,600 meals per week out of one of Tacombi’s taquerias by reactivating our operations with the purpose of providing food relief to those in need, as well as keeping our staff employed and supply chains activated. Currently, we are producing an average of 3,500 meals per week and estimate to distribute nearly 8,000 meals per week by the end of 2021.
Our mission is to build a more just food system while providing culturally-tailored, quality meals for people and families who are fighting food insecurity. We are committed to continuing meal production out of all Tacombi taquerias across NYC and to donating a number of weekly meals to families and communities that need them most – connecting with largely Hispanic neighborhoods where our Tacombi employees live. This year, the goal is to produce and distribute 300,000 meals. As Tacombi continues to expand, this goal will continue to grow our distribution output as well.
How has COVID-19 affected Tacombi Community Kitchen and all of the communities you serve?
COVID-19 has been an unprecedented disruption for the restaurant industry and it has certainly been a challenge in regards to navigating through it. However, it has also presented us and many other businesses with the opportunity to rethink the way that we build community and generate a positive impact while we do business.
Tacombi had to close its doors for a few weeks in March 2020, and we took that time to put a plan in place with all the necessary safety precautions that would allow us to reactivate our taquerias and to begin producing meals for local families in need. We leveraged our capacity to produce healthy, delicious meals at scale, and also activated a network of community centers and churches for distribution. Together, we distributed over 80,000 meals last year, which has fed more than 400 families for 10 consecutive months.
How has the support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund helped your organization and those you serve during this time?
We are very thankful to Grubhub and to the GCRF! We believe that no one should go hungry because they do not have the means or the access to nutritious meals, and Grubhub has been instrumental in helping us to expand our Tacombi Community Kitchen program in NYC so that we can produce and deliver thousands of more meals each week.
Grubhub, through the GCRF, allocated a generous donation to the TCK in June 2020, which helped us to increase the number of meals we were able to donate every week by 30%. In 2021, with the continued support and collaboration from the GCRF, we look forward to expanding our distribution to make a lasting impact.
Is there anything you would like to share with our diners who have supported the GCRF by donating their change?
We are so grateful for the support from each Grubhub diner! Any contribution, even just that small amount of change, is so meaningful and allows us to continue to produce and distribute healthy Mexican meals to those in need on a consistent basis.
Is there anything we didn’t ask that you would like to share?
While TCK was just launched in April of last year, supporting our communities has always been a part of Tacombi’s DNA, using food as a force for good! Back in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit NYC and left half of Manhattan without power, our Tacombi Nolita location opened its doors to offer a free, hot meal for any of our neighbors who needed it. And in 2017, when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico’s central and south territory, Tacombi organized a fundraising event, “Domingo de Barbacoa,” to help support Mexican families in their recovery efforts. Moving forward, our goal is to continue contributing to building a more equitable food system for all using TCK as a catalyst for our efforts.
If you’d like to donate directly to Tacombi Community Kitchen, visit their website.