LOS ANGELES – The power of comfort food is something Andy Valdez knows all too well. She is the marketing manager of Tex-Mex restaurant, Homestate. She's also the sister of the owner. Her family grew up eating enchiladas every Sunday.
“There is something very comforting and even celebratory about it, sharing a beautiful tray of enchiladas with your family,” said Valdez.
That's why Homestate, which is located in Highland Park, decided to serve enchildadas to the community as part of Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo’s free meal program for Council District 1. Under the program, 25 restaurants received a grant from the councilmember’s discretionary budget to make and serve food to those in need.
“It was a surprise to hear they already developed this program and here is a check basically, to support our team in the kitchen, in the front of house, and support the vendors we work with on a regular basis,” said Valdez.
The restaurant didn’t have to apply or wait for weeks to hear back, as they would with some state and federal funding. It was an instant process intended to help keep the neighborhood’s economy alive. Valdez says they were able to pay their staff and even give business to their local vendors.
“It was a domino effect that’s happened because of this smart program. It is the most beautiful representation of community,” said Valdez.
Councilmember Cedillo knew families would be struggling to put food on the table, so this program was top priority for his team.
“Our district has over 300,000 people and we are very proud that they are able to eat fresh, hot meals from local restaurants. Restaurants they are comfortable with. Restaurants that are ethnically and culturally responsive to their needs and their desires and experience. So, this is an organic program that we are engaged in and proud of,” said Cedillo.
Governor Newsom is working on a similar program to employ restaurants to cook and deliver meals to seniors. Councilmember Cedillo is happy to see a similar initiatives come to light.
“We are pleased the governor is emulating what we are doing. We are pleased that the mayor has embraced our model. We believe people lead by doing. Let’s stay together let’s be united let’s show what we do in Los Angeles and lead the way,” said Cedillo.
As Valdez helps deliver the enchiladas to the families of Para Los Niños, she sees the immediate impact of this program.
“Food is nurturing. Food gets you through the day. If you are worrying about where you next meal is coming from it is hard to focus on anything else,” said Valdez.
So not only can Homestate keep their workers paid, they can help keep the community fed.