“As you can imagine, that was a treat for our families,” she said. “It gave us the ability to further expand to provide food to people who cannot cook.”
El Buen Samaritano CEO Rosamaria Murillo said the decision to work with the Heights was an easy one.
“If children do not have food, it has a ripple effect in their health, their brain, their education, their future,” Murillo said. “The food we provide with the Cook’s Nook is going to have an effect that we might not even live to see, but we know that it will make a difference.”
Once El Buen secured funding for The Heights’ nutrition program, Zapata was able to select from a menu of options which was paired with milk each day. All of the meals from the Cultura Cuisine for Community Health solution can be eaten cold or hot, which she said was helpful when they didn’t know how many kids were eating at any one time.
“Prepared meals allow us to give choice to people,” Dr. Murillo said. “Our food access framework isn’t ‘How much healthy food can we give?’, but ‘How much choice can we give?’”
In addition to partnerships at three other apartment complexes, El Buen also distributes these high-quality meals through its mobile pantry, a truck that makes stops along Austin’s Eastern Crescent to distribute meals to people who need them.
Murillo said that these prepared meals have allowed them to reach both older and younger clients, who aren’t as likely to know how or be able to cook foods for themselves.