Imbibe 75 Organization to Watch: No Us Without You LA - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Imbibe 75 Organization to Watch: No Us Without You LA

When pandemic-related shutdowns put more than 10 million hospitality workers out of work, some of those hardest hit were already some of the most vulnerable. “As bartenders, we knew that our former undocumented staff members weren’t going to receive any government assistance,” says Othón Nolasco. “They spent years getting taxed on every paycheck yet aren’t eligible for state or federal unemployment or stimulus benefits.”

Nolasco and business partner Damián Diaz, co-founders of L.A. bar consultancy Va’La Hospitality, turned to what they saw as the most immediate need. “We wanted to feed those who have fed us for years,” says Nolasco. “On March 19, we loaded up our truck with groceries we bought with our own money at a restaurant supply store and fed 10 families.” They were line cooks and dishwashers that Diaz and Nolasco had worked with, whose families they knew personally.

They reached out to other bars and restaurants, and by the end of the first week, had fed 30 families. Working with a group of dedicated volunteers, and with mentorship and support from other businesses and organizations like Crafted Kitchen, Secret Lasagna, The Trotter Project, and Chefs to End Hunger, Diaz and Nolasco were able to continue to expand their reach.

By the fall of 2020, No Us Without You, by then registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, was providing food security for more than 1,300 families and moving more than 120,000 pounds of food each week, as well as offering tutoring and job assistance programs. “Our growth and subsequent success is all due to the tremendous support we received early on. Every industry leader we love and respect has helped us at some point since the shutdown,” says Nolasco. “There’s no turning back for us.”

Click here to donate to No Us Without You today.

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