How two Latino restauranteurs are feeding unemployed undocumented workers in Los Angeles
The pair created the nonprofit No Us Without You to help their cause.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020, many Americans have lost work, collected unemployment, and started GoFundMe accounts to stay afloat.
But what about the undocumented workers who spent years in the restaurant business and other industries and now have very little to fall back on?
Thanks to the kind-hearted Los Angeles residents, Othon Nolasco and Damian Diaz, many undocumented immigrants are now able to feed their families under these fearful times.
"In Los Angeles, the majority of the back of the house staff — the kitchen staff, prep staff, the dishwashers, the porters — are undocumented, either from Mexico or Central America," Nolasco explained to Insider.
Nolasco and Diaz used to own the restaurant consulting group, V’La Hospitality, but since the pandemic, they’ve focused more on feeding the restaurant workers who used to feed them.
Together, they created a nonprofit charity called, No Us Without You.
“These workers were getting taxes taken out of their paychecks but weren’t able to receive any benefits? We knew we needed to help them,” the pair explained.
Without employment, those same undocumented workers weren’t eligible for unemployment checks.
“It's hard enough for people with mortgages, family, and rent to survive on unemployment. Imagine having nothing coming in,” said Nolasco.
With $450 their own money, Nolasco, Diaz, and a few of their friends spent $450 bought healthy, hearty ingredients to make delicious dinners for families who needed it the most.
"We started an Instagram and started fundraising," Nolasco said. "That first week we fed 30 families. Now we're at 1,300."
The 1,300 families they helped eventually became friends, and Nolasco and Diaz always find the time to try and talk to them on a regular basis.
"A lot of these families have never taken any type of aid, and it was important to us to never just give them random things they don’t have any savings because most of the money they make are sent to their homes in Central America, or Mexico," Nolasco said.
Not only are Nolasco and Diaz helping immigrants stay afloat when it comes to feeding their families, they always want to make sure the food they’re receiving is familiar.
“We wanted to make sure the foods we give them approachable because most of them are from the Latinx community, foods like chiles, fruits, and vegetables, also other foods with longer shelf life” Nolasco explained in a video on their website.
At first, the philanthropists had a hard time gaining people’s trust because not only did they have to worry about Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) they also had to ensure them that taking food wasn’t a violation of their pride.
“We set up food drop off by appointments because we want to make sure that these people are safe, we don’t ask them any questions. A lot of people were worried that ICE would come and deport them,” said Nolasco.
During the holidays, No Us Without You handed out almost 1,300 turkeys, and more than 100 tamales.
“We want to do more than give them food, we want to give them diapers, formula, and toys for the kids,” they said. "At the end of the day, we're just feeding families, we're trying to help mothers and fathers feed their children, and we're proud to do that.”
At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to food, water, and safety.
To donate to No Us Without You, visit their website.