‘Dinner in the Neighborhood’

Posted on 18 Dec 2008 at 7:14pm
By Staff Reports

LULAC Rainbow Council delivers meals to shelters, Resource Center

 

The Dallas Rainbow Council collected 100 pies to feed low-income families this year. Pictured, from left, are Rainbow Council members Chelle Simmons, Zhyla Alvarado, Suzanne Hickman and Jesse Garcia.

The Dallas Rainbow Council, North Texas’ gay LULAC chapter, spent Saturday, Dec. 13, coordinating the largest feeding project by area LULAC chapters and delivering holiday meals to families throughout the region.

"Cena En El Barrio," Spanish for "Dinner in the Neighborhood," is an annual project coordinated by the Hispanic civil rights organization in North Texas, where boxed meals are prepared for low-income families.

This year, LULAC District Director Renato De Los Santos tapped local LGBT leader and LULAC 4871 Dallas Rainbow Council President Jesse Garcia to coordinate the event at Molina High School, where 300 volunteers boxed 2,000 meals.

The project doubled its numbers from 2007 to do more outreach across North Texas, including Tarrant County for this first time. And for the second year in a row, LULAC reached out to the Resource Center of Dallas and donated commodities from the food drive.

"Times are tough and demand grew this year," Garcia said. "LULAC District III contacted our partners at the North Texas Food Bank, CoorsMiller and Tyson to see what they could bring to the table, and they delivered. It was like a Christmas miracle! We had enough food for everyone. Our Hispanic youth collected more than 6,000 vegetable cans during food drives at school this fall. All this generosity made it a success."

Families received boxed meals that contained chicken, potatoes, oranges, grapefruits, canned vegetables and pies. Families were identified not only through schools but also through shelters and faith-based communities.

Garcia’s gay LULAC Council, which was founded in Oak Lawn in 2006 by members of Valiente and Stonewall Democrats, was one of 15 councils that participated in the food distribution project. The Rainbow Council adopted a battered women’s shelter in Dallas.

"We wanted to reach out to families, mothers with children, who were displaced," said Garcia. "They faced terrible violence this year and we want to make their holiday a little bit brighter."

The Rainbow Council was happy that businesses provided enough commodities that the council was also able to donate food to the Resource Center of Dallas. Garcia filled up his truck with cases containing 24 bags of 5-pound chicken leg quarters, 100 bags of potatoes and 100 cans of corn and green beans and delivered them to the center’s hot-meals kitchen.

"LULAC District III recognizes the great work the Resource Center does on daily basis. LULAC appreciates the center’s hot meal program and food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS in Dallas County," said De Los Santos. "Many Hispanics participate in these programs and we would like to thank the Resource Center for providing a generous meal and a nutritional resource for those who cannot afford to eat."

Garcia said he hopes the project will bring the Hispanic and LGBT communities closer together to build a foundation to work on other civil rights and social justice issues important to them.

Garcia’s council was inspired to reach out with this Hispanic project to the LGBT community’s Resource Center because of the great work Cathedral of Hope does each year to feed needy Hispanic families during Thanksgiving and Easter, building schools and homes in Latin America and providing school supplies to Hispanic children that attend DISD schools.

"Both communities are helping out each other’s most vulnerable populations. I make sure to remind our Hispanic leaders about the generosity that comes out of the LGBT community every day," said Garcia. "We are all in this together."

Organizations that would like to make a similar donation to the Resource Center of Dallas should contact Mickey Garrison at 214-521-3390.

The Dallas Rainbow Council meets will meet in 2009 every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m., at the Resource Center of Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. For more information, visit www.lulac4871.org or contact Garcia at 214-521-5342 ext. 1729.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 19, 2008.

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