Joshua Kopel

Food Fight Series: No Us Without You

On today’s show we chat with Othon Nolasco, co-founder of No Us Without You, a non-profit serving the most vulnerable amongst us within the hospitality community.

There are some revelations in life that hit you like a ton of bricks. It was Othon that brought to light that there are thousands of undocumented hospitality workers that are unable to receive government assistance and thus are unable to feed their families. Most of us can empathize but few of us have the courage to act. Within days of the quarantine, Othon and team were feeding families throughout Los Angeles county. Here, Othon provides a window into the work they’re doing and the people they’re supporting.

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SHOW NOTES

  • Met partners Damien and Erin in 2012 and created Va’La Hospitality in 2018
  • Consultants specifically for bar services
  • Coping though Covid19
  • All projects were shutdown when crisis hit
  • Still figuring out the next steps for Va’La
  • Focus on the charity work
  • Being “unemployed” feels very odd since hospitality professionals are usually working constantly
  • The beginnings of No Us Without You
  • Predicted the lockdown and shutdown of bars would happen
  • Lots of GoFundMes were being made for FOH staff but not the most vulnerable
  • Started the initiative to feed 1 undocumented, unemployed family for 1 day.
  • Bought food from restaurant outlets and packaged it
  • The initiative grew to feed the family for 1 week
  • Candidates for the program
  • Families are of undocumented back of house staff who are now unemployed
  • Hard-working people struggling without work
  • Operations of No Us Without You
  • Food packages have a mix of produce, dried staples, and home-cooked meals
  • Food supply partners donate to subsidize food
  • Team still shops 3-4 times a week to buy food from wholesalers
  • Feeding 1 family = $33 per week
  • They feed 300 families a week
  • Future of No Us Without You
  • Non-profit, tax-exempt status
  • Aim to feed 600-700 families per week
  • The human aspect
  • Many children they see are very confused
  • How many families not aware of the program are going hungry?
  • How many children are going hungry?
  • Hunger in America during Covid
  • Due to restaurant closures, farmers are dumping milk and slaughtering animals as they cannot afford to keep them
  • Many families are going hungry with rising unemployment
  • Long-term implications
  • Unemployment could mean families are behind on rent
  • Families are typically working at least two jobs to pay bills in normal times
  • When the job market reopens, competition for work will be high
  • With accumulated debt, it will be a long time before they are financially stable again
  • Goal of providing food stability to as many families as possible, for as long as possible. Prediction 12-18months
  • Personal goals of Othon
  • Planning a wedding which was postponed
  • Improving on weaknesses
  • Learning more about how to run a non-profit

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