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Local Hispanic restaurant follows tradition, offers free meals to those battling food insecurity

Posted at 9:06 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 22:14:45-04

1 in 8 Texans battle food insecurity, according to a new study by the Department of Agriculture.

Those numbers are evident here in the Brazos Valley, but local organizations and businesses are working together to make sure people don't go hungry.

Traditional Mexican food isn't the only thing served at Casa Rodriguez in Downtown Bryan.

"It's the right thing to do," owner Debbie Rodriguez said. "It gives them hope for humanity, you know it's the right thing to do."

Their food comes with an extra side of kindness.

Once located near Twin City Mission, the family-run restaurant was known as a place where people in need can get a free hot meal.

"The tradition has carried on, word on the street, I've had a few come in here and say, 'hey, this is where I heard we can get a hot meal?' and I'll say 'Come on in, sit down we got you'," Rodriguez said.

A tradition Rodriguez's parents started when Casa Rodriguez first opened.

Though community members are more likely to utilize other resources like the Brazos Church Pantry or the Brazos Valley Food Bank.

"There is always going to be a need for charitable food assistance. There's always going to be a need for children to be fed in school," Teresa Mangapora, Executive director, Brazos Valley Food Bank said.

That need even more evident at the start of the pandemic as local food pantries saw more people using their resources.

"Last year we had a big bump," Andrea Derrig, president of Brazos Church Pantry, said. It was a significant number. The numbers have dropped this year. Maybe because of the child tax credit check."

The need hasn't changed, but the pandemic may have motivated the federal government to step in and help.

"It's absolutely wonderful that people are getting what they need when they need it," Derrig said.

"It's nice to see that things that we advocate for, things that we know that can work happen and then they work because honestly what that means is there's less families struggling and suffering," Mangapora said.

Amid a pandemic, a good healthy meal goes a long way said Teresa Mangapora, executive director at Brazos Valley Food Bank.

"We are already dealing with having to worry about catching a virus that's out there, COVID, if you can be fed well and you can be at your best that's going to make you fight that off even better," said Mangapora.

Whether it's a food bank or a local restaurant serving a helping hand, no one is left behind in communities like this that work together.