Free food sign 2

Hispanic Heritage Month: A Celebration of Resiliency and Solidarity

The Latino community, our community, can only be represented by its diversity. We have a variety of origins, races and ideas. We are a growing community – more than 62 million strong – contributing to every aspect of American life. Afrolatinos, Chicanos, multiracial, indigenous groups, Latinx members of the LGBTQ community, we all share this identity that connects us.

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And most of all, we share a sense of community and strength, a desire to make this world better for our families and for others.

At No Kid Hungry, we rally this sense of community to fulfill our goal of ending childhood hunger and its disproportionate effect on families of color.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2020 Household Food Security in the U.S. report, hunger among Latino families was exacerbated by the pandemic. The number of Latino families with children facing hunger rose by 28% with more than one in five having experienced hunger in the past year.

That’s why we’re continuing to advocate and increase awareness about policies and programs that bring relief to Latino children and their families. We have expanded our partnerships in the Latino community, teaming up with a number of organizations like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, UnidosUS, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and other regional and local groups to help make sure Latino families and kids across the country have access to the nutrition they need.

National and local Latino organizations, individuals and schools are working hard to bring food to kids who need it. Marina Eve Martinez in Puerto Rico is a perfect example.

Puerto Rico - La Isla del Encanto, or the Island of Enchantment, is known for many things – its rich culture, beaches, sports and celebrities. But, like many in our community, what shines through is the resiliency and solidarity of its people.

In the past few years, Puerto Ricans have faced a series of natural disasters, including two devastating hurricanes and earthquakes followed by the pandemic – all this while undergoing historic bankruptcy and delays in federal aid to rebuild.

Two people wearing masks in front of food sign

The economic consequences of these crises have worsened food insecurity on the island, but incredible people like Martinez have risen to support her community during these difficult times. A self-taught chef, entrepreneur and resilient mother, Martinez persevered and did what she knew how to do best to help others – cook.

For years, she ran a food truck, Bistro del Mar, that depended heavily on the island's tourism. The multiple crises impacted her business and livelihood. But that didn’t stop her. With the support from her partner Angel Cora, she mobilized her food truck and used all the unsold food to make fresh meals for her local community.

“People are going hungry.” Martinez shared. “I looked at all of the food that I had - I said, ‘you know what? I am going to cook it all.’”

The first time, they prepared 350 meals for community members facing similar economic challenges. The word spread quickly, and just in one day, they got almost 200 calls from families asking about when the next food distribution would occur.

Hearing from so many families in need of food motivated them to scale up their efforts.

“I know there’s people that come to me crying and saying to me, thank you. ‘You are being the voice that I never thought I had,’” shared Martinez

Martinez and Cora founded Tenedor Social and began collecting food to cook for families in need. They tapped into their networks for additional support, including a No Kid Hungry grant to purchase food and continue their meal distribution operations.

Free food sign in Spanish

To date, Tenedor Social has served over 2,200 to hungry kids, distributed 51,310 produce boxes and is now working out of a closed school building to grow operations beyond Martinez’s food truck.

While the building requires many repairs, Martinez isn’t discouraged. She’s enlisted the help of Tenedor Social volunteers to assist in revitalizing the building to be able to serve more local families.

Her vision for Tenedor Social is to transform this school building into a place for the community, serving food connected to her ancestral roots, and to become a place that provides support to local families.

Let this Hispanic Heritage Month be a celebration of the strength and resiliency of members of our community who, like Martinez and Cora, work tirelessly to ensure all kids have the food to power their dreams.

Learn more about programs like hers, and stay tuned for personal stories that celebrate our staff’s Latino heritage, as they share their experiences and what drew them to the work of ending childhood hunger.