Winter

Community Fridges were established by neighbors, community organizers, and grassroots organizations as a last recourse because people didn’t have enough to eat. Real estate developers and big charitable organizations shouldn’t be doing this kind of work and co-opting the mutual aid narrative. They should be providing high quality, organic food to already existing mutual aid efforts, not asking for donations or for volunteers to do “mutual aid” work.

Yajaira Saavedra.
A NOTE ON THE TALLIES
  • 2 lbs. hot meals: One hot meal prepared by La Morada (hot main dish + side + fruit) equals approximately two meals provided by the city through the GetFood NYC program. La Morada hot meal tallies can—and should—be multiplied by two to estimate the number of meals distributed according to the city measurements. La Morada was not a contractor nor participate in the GetFoodNYC or the “Grab and Go Meals” program by DSNY.
  • 20 lbs. grocery boxes: these boxes, put together by La Morada, weigh about 20lb. The boxes are distributed among Mott Haven families that are part of the Whatsapp group “Indígenas American Unidos.”
  • 30 lbs. USDA combo boxes: These boxes include fresh vegetables, dairy, meat, and nonperishable food and weigh 30 lb. USDA boxes begin to be distributed in The Bronx in January of 2021 (Brooklyn and Manhattan started receiving USDA Boxes in Summer 2020, thanks to the advocacy done by La Morada, Mutual Aid Folks, and the Public Advocate Office.
A NOTE ON ACCOUNTABILITY

La Morada denounces

Chef Andres, World Central Kitchen for profiting from disasters, Placing the immigrant community and vulnerable communities at risk by working closely with Homeland Security and Police Officers, serving police officers first in the food lines instead of people that are in need, using vulnerable moments for photo ops.

Brookfield Properties for causing mass displacement of Mott Haven Neighbors including small businesses through gentrification and gatekeeping food and much-needed resources during the COVID 19 Pandemic through nonprofit organizations and infiltrating mutual-aid groups.

RAP4BRONX (Relief Access Program for the Bronx), an initiative backed by real estate developers. RAP4Bronx is powered by the Skyline Charitable Foundation, a non-for-profit that is also behind Skyline Restoration. RAP4BRONX functions as a screen organization for real estate developers. Brookfield Properties works directly with them, as shown in RAP4Bronx website: “Produce Donation by Brookfield Properties and Imperfect Foods.”

Bronx Foundation, Mott Haven Bar and Grill, Beatstro, for constantly selling out the Mott Haven community by constantly aligning themselves with real estate developers, the corrupt Bronx Democratic Machine, and corporations.

Daniel Zauderer, Mott Haven Fridge, for creating an unsafe setting in Mott Haven and the Upper Manhattan and Bronx Fridge network by ignoring accountability and constantly involving and selling out Mott Haven and the Fridges to gentrifiers (like Rap4bx and Brookfield), and politicians. His willingness to post the líkenesses of fridge visitors on social media as well as fundraise utilizing the likenesses and efforts of other community fridge organizers without consent is duplicitous and endangers and exploits our community members. When community organizers called Daniel in for accountability and told him to stop misrepresenting himself with the labor and identities of our community members , his response was to harass them repeatedly and abusively. 

Ian Christner, Riverdale Senior Services/North West Food Justice Project / Police Liaison, for infiltrating the fridge network and being verbally violent and threatening towards women of color. He applied for and received $75,000 in funding to Riverdale Senior Services invoking the community fridge movement in his proposal without any consent from community fridge organizers, again like Daniel soliciting money for work that is not his. Also, he has displaced NYCHA tenants from control of their own community gardens and sought to further position himself as a gatekeeper to food and resources with his non for profit work. 

ALSO, FOLKS SHOULD NOT FORGET

  • Airlines got a bailout before restaurants did.
  • Most essential workers working in the food industry—i.e., in the frontlines—are undocumented.
  • In early 2021, dozens of undocumented food industry workers went on a hunger strike that lasted over 30 days. What does it mean to have to go on a hunger strike so you and your loved ones don’t have to experience hunger?
  • La Morada door, photo fetched from @lamoradanyc Instagram account
    La Morada door, photo fetched from @lamoradanyc Instagram account.

    WINTER 2020

    January 2020

    January 11: One year since Yajaira gets arrested by NYPD. The New York Times covers the arrest with the headline, “It Was a Sanctuary for Immigrants in the Bronx. Then One of Its Owners Was Arrested.“ 

    February 2020

    February 26: La Morada is declared semi-finalist of the James Beard Award, considered “the Oscars of the food industry,” according to the Eater note. La Morada is a semifinalist in the “Outstanding Restaurant” category.

    March 2020

    March 1: the first COVID-19 case is officially registered in New York State

    March 7: Cuomo declares a state of emergency. 

    The first week of March, a group of activists and community organizers, including members from the South Bronx Tenant Association, Take Back the Bronx, and Sanctuary Neighborhoods, meet at La Morada to organize and coordinate efforts to respond to the threats of ICE raids. John from Ghetto Gastro, a culinary collective from the Bronx, shows up at the end of this meeting.  

    March 4: an ICE agent is caught on camera carrying a rifle—a military-grade weapon—during a raid. By then, there have already been four ICE raids in the South Bronx. 

    The South Bronx community organizes a rally on March 6th, to protest against Trump’s and ICE’s terrorism. 

    Meanwhile, a few people begin to be released from Rikers and other prisons. They are open to share their experiences. There are calling efforts to make shelters out of hotels. 

    March 8: NYC issues guidelines to avoid densely packed buses, subways, or trains. 

    March 10: Cuomo orders a containment zone in New Rochelle from March 12 to 25. 

    March 12: it is ordered that events with more than 500 people must be cancelled or postponed; Broadway shuts down. 

    March 13: Former President T*** declares “a national emergency,” although he doesn’t do much besides that. 

    Starting the second week of March, many folks become unemployed, because everything begins to shut down. Undocumented folks are hit particularly hard. 

    La Morada establishes a partnership with Emmanuel from the South Bronx Tenant Association. There are many buildings in the neighborhood that don’t have gas or running water. La Morada starts delivering hot meals to tenants in these buildings because they are not able to cook due to the faulty infrastructures in the tenants’ buildings. La Morada’s hot meals initiative is different from the “government boxes” the city begins to distribute later on. La Morada staff cook hot meals; volunteers help to distribute them. La Morada is not and has never been, a pantry. 

    March 15: the C.D.C. recommends no gatherings of more than 50 people in the U.S.

    March 16: NYC public schools close; the next day, NYC bars and restaurants are ordered to close except for delivery. 

    Around this time, there begin to emerge mutual-aid initiatives to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic began all around the country: 

    La Morada begins to operate intermittently for take out and delivery only. 

    March 22: the NYS on Pause Program begins. All non-essential workers are ordered to stay home. 

    March 27: La Morada writes on their FB page:

    “We understand La Morada is more than a restaurant, it’s a community space and we are trying to stay open to support our immigrant community regardless of revenue. We are currently running COVID19 logistics and training with our staff to ensure everyone’s safety. 

    Best, La Morada #JamesBeardFinalist2020”

    La Morada is also nominated as a semi finalist of the David Prize Award. 

    March 27: Former President T*** signes the CARES Act which includes “Assistance for Small Businesses”: “The Paycheck Protection Program is providing small businesses with the resources they need to maintain their payroll, hire back employees who may have been laid off, and cover applicable overhead.” La Morada does not qualify for this aid, due to their immigration status. 

    January – March 2020 Meal Count

    The Mutual-Aid Kitchen at La Morada opened in Mid April 2020. Therefore, the free meals tally from January 2020 through March 2020 is Zero.

    A bowl of pumpkin soup surrounded by whole potatoes and leaves of purple irises.
    Pumpkin Soup (Joumou) cooked by La Morada for community fridges; photo fetched from La Morada Facebook account.

    WINTER 2021

    MAIN INGREDIENTS: squash, chicken, turkey, pasta, root vegetables.

    January 2021 Meal Count

    2 lbs. hot meals tally: 10,700

    Week 1: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 2: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 3: 2,900 (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday + 300 for Hunts Point during strike days)

    Week 4: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Neighborhood, groups and organizations that receive/distribute hot meals: Mott Haven, Holyrood Church, home deliveries, Neighborhoods Benches, volunteers, fridges (The Uptown Fridge, The Fridge Girls, and Community Fridges deliver and stock up fridges with meals prepared by La Morada). 

    20 lbs. grocery boxes tally: 320

    Week 1: 80 boxes

    Week 2: 80 boxes

    Week 3: 80 boxes 

    Week 4: 80 boxes

    30 lbs. USDA boxes tally: 1,296 (24 pallets)

    January 2021

    January 1: La Morada prepares pumpkin soup to celebrate Haitian Independence Day. on Facebook, La Morada writes:

    “Celebrating ☆ La Perle des Antilles ☆ Happy Haitian independence Day

    Haitians traditionally cook Joumou (pumpkin soup) to celebrate the world’s first and only successful slave revolution resulting in an independent nation. BEFORE INDEPENDENCE White masters forbid slaves to eat Joumou. We have provided Joumou (pumpkin soup) for all community fridges and will continue distributing Joumou with the help of @thefridgegirls this upcoming week.”

    La Morada continues to cook pumpkin soup daily, to provide the community fridges with a vegan option. 

    January 4: La Morada announces Natalia, a.k.a. Mamá Morada, will undergo surgery and be at bed rest during the month of February. “Keeping true to Mixtec tradition, Mama Natalia preps all of La Morada’s mole just the way her mother taught her. Unfortunately, Mama Morada will undergo surgery and be at bed rest for the month of February. We won’t be serving mole during the month of February and have a shorter take-out menu. The Mutual-aid kitchen will still be functioning and serving hundreds of foods as usual. We will resume our full menu in March when Chef Natalia returns.”

    January 4: The renegotiation with Rethink Food begins. RethinkFood proposes La Morada a new contract. They offer to pay $3 per meal, instead of $4.5 per meal, which is what they have been paying until now. La Morada does not sign the contract. 

    January 7: La Morada publishes Mutual+Aid Kitchen Safety Parameters and Partnership Guidelines

    January 10: It is Marco Saavedra’s birthday.  

    January 11: It has been Two years since Yajaira’s arrest by the NYPD. She gives her deposition to the court. 

    The same day, @NBC names The Infiltrators as one of the best #LatinAmerican and #Latino movies and documentaries streaming. 

    January 14: La Morada denounces the existence of the Trump Golf Course in The Bronx. “It is insulting to have such a fancy pedicure golf course in the Bronx when right across from the golf course are run down hotels turn into terrible shelters by the city to host the most vulnerable people during covid. Such a waste of land when there is so much #food insecurity in the #Bronx. Turn the Trump Golf Course in the Bronx to a community garden where folks can grow and harvest food! Misusing land brings no honor to #Indigenouspeople.”

    January 17: Yajaira participates as a speaker in the rally organized by Mott Haven Families, We want Justice for June 4th. The rally demands for No new prisons, No new precincts, No new cops and to hold the NYPD accountable for the June 4th attack on peaceful protestors.

    The flyer for #JusticeforJune4, a rally and press conference organized by Mott Haven Families.

    January 20: La Morada amplifies the fight waged by the Hunt Points Market workers, members of the Teamsters Local 202 who go on strike, demanding better wages.

    “ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE. This is what fighting for #foodjustice looks like! The essential workers at Hunts Point Terminal Market deserve more than a dollar raise for feeding #newyorkcity during #covid19. Give them $1 raise and retroactive hazard pay!”

    January 21: La Morada decries the way in which Latinx mainstream media depicts immigrants. The restaurant amplifies the voice of @detentionwatch: “We are upset by how the media like @univisionny @uninoticias keeps generalizing #dreamers and simplifying the immigrant stand to be “citizenship at any cost” when in reality most #undocumented people want a path to citizenship but NOT at the expense of our community. Thank you @detentionwatch for setting up a more humane demand.”

    January 28: The Vendor Reform Bill, also known as Intro 1116, passes at the New York City Council. This is a bill @Street Vendor Project has been advocating for and which La Morada fully supports.

    A flyer shared by @streetvendorproject celebrating the passing of Bill Intro 1116. Image fetched from La Morada Facebook account.

    January 29: La Morada begins to hand out about 1,300 30 lbs. USDA boxes outside the restaurant. The boxes run out in a few hours. “Today we handed out 24 pallets of @usdagov food in less than 2hrs! Many thanks to all the volunteers that help us unload and give out food. Thank you @themissionhand for doing all the hard work with us. Also HUGE shout out to @themeathook who came real clutch with extra bags of produce for the folks who came late and were left out from receiving USDA boxes.”

    February 2021 Meal Count

    February 2021 | 2 lbs. hot meals tally: 8,450

    Week 1: 650 (La Morada opens only one day)

    Week 2: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 3: 2,600 (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 4: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Neighborhood, groups and organizations that receive/distribute hot meals: Mott Haven, Holyrood Church, home deliveries, Neighborhoods Benches, volunteers, fridges (The Uptown Fridge, The Fridge Girls, and Community Fridges deliver and stock up fridges with meals prepared by La Morada). 

    20 lbs. grocery boxes tally: 400

    Week 1: 100 boxes

    Week 2: 100 boxes

    Week 3: 100 boxes 

    Week 4: 100 boxes

    30 lbs. USDA boxes tally: 2,592 (48 pallets)

    Week 1: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 2: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 3: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 4: 648 (12 pallets)

    February 2021

    February 1: La Morada does not open due to the storm.

    February 2: La Morada advocates for vaccines for undocumented restaurant workers. The advocacy continues throughout February.

    February 3: Natalia gets surgery. The Mutual Aid Kitchen is cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday, and resumes on Thursday.

    February 6: In continuation with their advocacy to secure vaccines for undocumented restaurant workers, La Morada shares a study published by CNBC about the risks faced by restaurant workers during the pandemic.

    February 16: La Morada shares another news published by the Gothamist about the disparities with regards to vaccine access by ZIP code: “ZIP code data revealed the disparities the city has seen throughout the pandemic in which wealthier, white communities fare better than low-income neighborhoods of color. Last month, demographic data from the mayor’s office showed for every one Black or Latino New Yorker who was vaccinated, three white residents received a dose.”

    February 22: La Morada writes on Facebook: “Thoughts while prepping apple sauce: ‘Not all cops are bad’ ‘Just a few bad apples’ ‘Just a few bad apples ruin the bunch’ ‘We must defund, reform, and pick out the bad apples’… Key: If it’s bad throw it away (or compost). If it’s bruised turn it into apple sauce. Abolish and transform and restore.”

    Dozens of red apples inside two cardboard boxes. Photo fetched from La Morada Facebook account.

    February 23: La Morada writes a post in support of @southbronxmutualaid: “Shout out to @southbronxmutualaid a strong supporter of La Morada and the #Bronx. @southbronxmutualaid helped established many community fridges through out the Bronx including the @motthavenfridge. We have partnered up with @southbronxmutualaid since the first wave of the pandemic to make sure the #communityfridges in the Bronx (yes as far as city island shout out @anchorfridge) and parts of norther Manhattan shoutout to @theuptownfridge are stocked up with food on a daily basis. This is on going mutual aid work. Sometimes ingredients like bruised apples are not fit for the fridge so we turn them into apple sauce. We make it work cuz the government fails us while developers and corporations are constantly trying to pimp us. So we depend on Mutual-aid for survival.”

    February 23: Marco Saavedra wins political asylum! the decision on his case sets a precedent for other immigration rights activists.

    February 25: Democracy Now! coverage about Marco Saavedra wining his asylum case.

    Image of the news headline published by Democracy Now! on February 25, 2021, shared by La Morada on their Facebook account.
    March 2021 Meal Count

    March 2021 | 2 lbs. hot meals tally: 10,400

    Week 1: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 2: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 3: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Week 4: 2,600 meals (650 per day, Tuesday to Friday)

    Neighborhood, groups and organizations that receive/distribute hot meals: Mott Haven, Holyrood Church, home deliveries, Neighborhoods Benches, volunteers, fridges (The Uptown Fridge, The Fridge Girls, and Community Fridges deliver and stock up fridges with meals prepared by La Morada). 

    20 lbs. grocery boxes tally: 480

    Week 1: 120 boxes

    Week 2: 120 boxes

    Week 3: 120 boxes 

    Week 4: 120 boxes

    30 lbs. USDA boxes tally: 3,240 (60 pallets)

    Week 1: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 2: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 3: 648 (12 pallets)

    Week 4: 1,296 (24 pallets)

    March 2021

    March 2: Coverage by BronxNet about Marco’s political asylum case.

    March 3: La Morada is selected Semifinalist of the James Bear Award. On Instagram, the restaurant writes: “Thanks for the @beardfoundation #outstandingrestaurant recognition but can we get a pallet of fresh ingredients for our Mutual Aid kitchen instead? We are serving a minimum of 650 meals a day for almost a year now. Every bit helps.” View this post on Instagram

    James Beard Award 2020 diploma awarded to La Morada as semifinalist.

    March 5: La Morada partners with The TaxKing LLC: “TaxKing LLC has agreed to sponsor meals at our Mutual-Aid Kitchen for every person who files their taxes with them during this tax season. Please call 718.665.1040 to set an appointment.”

    March 11: La Morada applies for a FedexGrant. They do not get the grant.

    March 13: La Morada is featured in “A year like no other,” an interview with Latino USA. Their segment starts at 29:45.

    March 16: Carolina Saavedra is named one of NYC Women of the Year by Timeout Magazine.

    March 21: Natalia Mendez is featured and photographed by @elpaissemanal, photos by @camilafalquez

    March 21: La Morada announces on Facebook the names of the fridges and distribution centers they have been partnering up with:

    Fridges

    Manhattan: @theuptownfridge @peoplesfridgewordup @thepeoplespeoplesfridge @lanevera183 @the155streetfridge @sugarhillcommunityfridge @holyroodsantacruz @theharlemcommunityfridge

    Bronx: @southbronxmutualaid @anchorfridge @nuestraxnevera@food_justice_ministry @kingsfridge @bedfordparkcommunityfridge @thefridgegirls @neighborhoodbenches @padreplazasbx @missionhhnyc

    Queens: @queensbridgecommunityfridge

    March 24: La Morada publishes on Facebook a “Reparations Request” addressed to Grubhub and DoorDash 

    “We have never agreed to join your platform. We are not aware of any additional fees you may be charging customers nor have we gotten any service payments from your platforms. We are limiting our online orders because we are aware of how your platforms underpay your delivery workers and we DO NOT want to further enable your exploitation practices. We are publicly requesting for Grubhub and Doordarsh to remove us from their database. 

    Dear customers: To order please call us directly 718.292.0235 for pick up only. We are using ubereats very limited and only open the app up when we are short on funds to meet ends. We will return to our regular delivery system when the pandemic is over and even then we will continue placing our community over profits. 

    Best,

    The Morada Family”

    Timeline by the seasons:

    Spring / Summer / Fall / Winter