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“No Us Without You LA” Uplifts Immigrant Food Workers

“No Us Without You LA” Uplifts Immigrant Food Workers

Jeanette Lem

In the sprawling urban landscape of Los Angeles, where glitz and glamour often overshadow the struggles of marginalized communities, No Us Without You LA emerges as a powerful force for change. Initiated by seasoned bartenders Damian Diaz and Othón Nolasco, this public charity is on a mission to address food insecurity among the often-neglected back-of-house restaurant staff and street vendors in the greater Los Angeles area.

Photo of No Us Without You LA cofounders Otho Nolasco (right) and Damian Diaz (left) via Instagram: @nouswithoutyou

The genesis of No Us Without You LA can be traced back to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the hospitality industry grappled with unprecedented challenges, Diaz and Nolasco, the minds behind Va’La Hospitality, swiftly pivoted to address a pressing concern: how would back-of-house workers feed their families? In just one day, they transformed their consultancy group into a dynamic food distribution center with the simple realization that a modest $33 donation could sustain a family of four for an entire week. The mission was clear: to extend a helping hand to the most disenfranchised members of the hospitality industry, with a special focus on mothers and children in need.

Photo via Instagram: @nouswithoutyou

Va’La Hospitality’s office underwent a metamorphosis into a bustling food distribution center. Operating with funds from the founders and the generosity of donations, No Us Without You LA has successfully distributed over 40,000 pounds of food every month. Beyond mere sustenance, the initiative injects life into the often-overlooked back-of-house staff, including dishwashers, line cooks, and prep cooks, who are frequently treated as dispensable in the industry.

What began as an ambitious goal of supporting 30 families per week quickly surpassed expectations. At its peak, No Us Without You LA provided food security for over 1,600 families weekly. As of December 2023, the initiative continues to support over 700 families every month, demonstrating a sustained commitment to alleviating the hardships faced by underserved communities. Diaz and Nolasco plan to extend their food relief packages through 2024 and beyond, underscoring the importance of ensuring the underserved community feels acknowledged and respected.

Photo via Instagram: @nouswithoutyou

No Us Without You LA transcends the conventional definition of a charity. Diaz, Nolasco, and their dedicated volunteers have not only created a lifeline for those often relegated to the shadows but have also ignited a sense of unity and respect in the diverse streets of Los Angeles. The organization’s name serves as a reminder that there is no ‘us’ without ‘you,’ and that interconnectedness is what binds communities together.

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