#BetterTogether: Season of Giving

By Jessi Mitchell for CBS New York, Published October 18, 2023

NEW YORK – CBS New York’s Season Of Giving campaign with our Better Together community partners, who are working to fight food insecurity, is now underway.

Culturally relevant meals have become a big focus in East Harlem, where asylum seekers are lining up for food. The New York Common Pantry has new partnerships to help fill the gap.

Just before the lunch rush begins, the Tacombi crew on the Upper East Side rolls out tacos and burritos, ready for a special delivery.

“All my team, it makes them happy making food for somebody else, like all the families coming for the first time over here,” said Tacombi master taquero Susano Machuca.

Weekly, the meals make their way to NYCP, offering a taste of home. The Tacombi Community Kitchen aligned itself with the mission to help newly arrived migrants.

“We own the responsibility to give back, so we leverage … everything that we know to do best, which is Mexican food and hospitality, and we put that out there,” said Tacombi Foundation director Susana Camarena.

Read more: #BetterTogether: Season of Giving 2023

“They provide us with 400 meals a week.” said NYCP deputy executive director Judy Secon. “It goes a long way. It lets us stretch our dollars to be able to provide for other needs.”

Tacombi’s donations started this summer in response to the city’s surge of Spanish-speaking asylum seekers. They now supplement the dishes NYCP head chef Marlon Taylor serves up on site, from lemon pepper salmon to fajita spaghetti.

“The community loves it because it’s something different,” Taylor said. “They don’t expect that from a typical soup kitchen, but when they come here, they love it.”

Creativity is needed, as the pantry now sees nearly 100 new clients each day.

“Numbers unheard of,” Secon said, “their needs are multiple because a lot of them are coming from shelters where they’re not given three meals a day.”

As the pantry expands the types of fresh and frozen options available, they have added bags of food that do not require cooking for families without kitchens.

NYCP does not expect demand to decrease any time soon. To learn how you can help, click here.

The pantry especially needs connections to African and vegan cuisine to address an increase in those dietary needs as well.