Food Trucks and World Central Kitchen to the Rescue | On the Table

Holding a half-open burrito sideways in both hands, 3-year-old Leilani Valverde took a bite from the middle and approached with a smile. According to her father, Christian Valverde, who took her to the Riodell fire station Thursday morning, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake near Ferndale cut off electricity and water at her home in two days. It was her first hot meal.

After the December 20 earthquake, Chef José Andreas’ international relief organization, World Central Kitchen, was mobilized quickly to feed residents without access to food, water or other utilities. The rest of the county had power and water running, so nonprofits responding to humanitarian disasters around the world didn’t need to install an entire mobile kitchen. Instead, we reached out to deploy local resources that could help us out of the box. It’s a food truck. By the end of December 21st, they had served an estimated 1,700 meals.

Sam Brock, director of emergency response at World Central Kitchen, said he and his colleagues in Oakland got to work as soon as they learned of the news. “Because every disaster and every community’s needs are different, we are on the ground, talking to people, designing where and how to feed people at the right time.” Rio Dell and Fortuna We have set up hot meal stations in both towns due to the loss of power and water. One in Rohner Park by the Red Cross Shelter and the Rio Dell Fire Station, which has moved to Monument Middle School. “We’re looking at people’s ability to prepare proper meals for themselves,” Bloch said, including the availability of water, electricity, stores and gas. ”

Bloch met with Rio del Mayor Debra Garnes, fire department and Red Cross staff, and colleague Prajna Alecar took on Fortuna’s end. He also reached out to food truck owners because they had already prepared ingredients, independent power and water and were ready to go to town. It makes sense if there are local businesses that can do business with us.”

A call to Jamie Knight of Loco Fish, Inc., who had just run out of stock, led him to Knight’s next-door neighbor and Manzanilla food truck owner, David Belasco. From there, Velasco transmitted information between his mobile his hood his connections. He “phoned our friends at Humboldt Bay Burgers, Fogon Costeño, Taqueria Martinez and Oaxaca Grill to see if they could serve hundreds of burritos each,” Velasco said. . When asked if he was joking, he said with a laugh. “It was great because so many people came.”

Enrique Buenrostro of Fógon Costeño, Miguel Martinez of Taqueria Martinez, Osmando and Omar Hernandez of Los Giles Taqueria, Oaxaca Grill and Leobardo Rivera of Humboldt Bay Burgers all answered the phone. Gabby Long of Taste of Bim connected to the organization through Humboldt Made, and so did Jorgelina and Gino Granados of Pupuseria San Miguel.

From there, Bloch calculated a flat rate per meal to pay the company. “We are cooks and love local businesses… [and so we] For the many restaurants and mobile businesses World Central Kitchen works with, relief means cooking more food in a day than ever before.

Working on Buenrostro trucks, which are lighter than Manzanilla’s rigs, Velasco and Buenrostro produced an estimated 1,800 meals between 6am and 9pm on December 21, 22 and 23.

Velasco said they were likely to make a small profit, but it didn’t matter to him. “I’m excited about that,” he said, adding that he agreed to work with Bloch before he knew how much the organization was paying. It was a real pleasure to work with them and it was a great experience to see so many people happy.”

Long, who has served comfort foods such as curried chicken and beef short ribs from her Taste of Bim trucks at Fortuna and Rio Dell, said: , but well done. ” Hearing about the hardships of people being forced from their homes and sometimes crammed into temporary housing, she felt compelled to make her Christmas Eve dinner extra special. served roast ham or vegan vegetable pasta for dinner. I wasn’t surprised to see them gathering for the occasion.”That’s us.”

Cars line up around the Riodell Fire Station to pick up cases of shelf-stable food, cleaning supplies and bottled water. At the end of the lot, Rosio Lopez, Omar and Osmando Hernandez were sending burritos and tacos out the window of his truck at Ross Giles Taqueria. Next to the red Fógon Costeño truck, Velasco and his Buenrostro were pounding foil-wrapped pork, chicken, beef, and bean burritos.

When one volunteer asked the driver what kind of burrito she wanted for her family, she waved her hand in response. She received a rocking bag of burritos and she added, “Thank you for all you do.”

Wearing a Santa hat, Garnes received 100 burritos from a Taqueria Martinez truck waiting to be delivered to the elderly in Rio del. “A lot of people can come here, but a lot of people can’t,” she said. Food from trucks sponsored by World Central Kitchen was again provided to seniors at home. “I was really impressed with how people came together and responded,” she said.

Bloch said the operations at Rio Dell and Fortuna are not budgeted. It lasts as long as necessary. Humboldt County is his 58th setup in four and a half years in 24 countries. Quoting founder Andrés, Block said, “World Central Kitchen is the largest organization in the world because every restaurant, every farmer, every food truck is part of it. They don’t even know we exist.”

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (She/She) is the Journal’s art and feature editor. Please contact her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or Follow her on Instagram @JFumikoCahill and her Mastodon @jenniferfumikocahill

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