Many Boyle Heights residents have been united in response to the coronavirus pandemic, from protests calling for a pause on rent to home deliveries of goods for the elders. However, with a homeless population of nearly 60,000, Los Angeles faces a unique struggle to keep that population safe from the virus while also providing basic services.
In Boyle Heights, the owners of Casa Fina Restaurant and Cantina decided to take matters into their own hands, after folks from Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission reached out to them.
With coronavirus restrictions, Proyecto Pastoral – a community-based organization that runs two homeless shelters in Boyle Heights– was worried about losing volunteers and donations. Emmanuel Deleage, co-owner of Casa Fina, saw this as an opportunity to donate meals with a buy-one-give-one approach. For every meal someone purchased from the restaurant, they would prepare a meal for the Guadalupe men’s homeless shelter.
Every time the restaurant reaches 70 meals or at the end of the week, Deleage hand delivers the meals to the shelter on the grounds of Dolores Mission Church. The photographs in this essay were taken during the ninth food delivery in late May. As of this publishing, Casa Fina has delivered 700 meals to Proyecto Pastoral.
Casa Fina prepares 70 free meals a week, or whenever they reach 70 meals ordered by its clientele. On one recent week, the restaurant was able to make two deliveries, because of the high amount of orders placed.
A Casa Fina employee prepares enchiladas for the delivery. In response to COVID-19, Casa Fina has also set up “La Tiendita,” an online store for people to order house supplies and face masks.
Once prepared, the enchiladas are cooked with sauce and cheese on top before being loaded up for the delivery.
Deleage and a volunteer of Proyecto Pastoral prepare the food and supplies. As food was served, smiles formed under the face masks of those about to enjoy their delicious meals.
Jesus Zamudio, a resident of Proyecto Pastoral explained how grateful he was. “It’s a blessing,” he said. “We live off of donations and people who are kind enough to understand our situation, especially now that there’s a pandemic.”
Zamudio was overwhelmed and said he loves the food he gets to enjoy with his friends. “It’s an act of kindness, an act of love.”