The COVID pandemic has certainly shaken up our community, causing small businesses to shut down and many restaurants to permanently close their doors to the public. This has caused many individuals to face extreme difficulty accessing palatable food on a day-to-day basis, especially as the virus has forced the economy to enter a recession and unemployment has soared. However, one amazing program, the ACAN Meal Delivery Project, aims to alleviate some of this stress via the hard efforts of around one hundred Chinese-American families in Austin who want to give back to their community during these troubling times.
The ACAN Meal Delivery Project began in Mid-March of 2020, and it is still going on strong today. It operates by first purchasing and delivering fresh ingredients and/or produce to their volunteers’ homes, who then use them to prepare around 20-30 servings of that week’s specific menu, such as macaroni and cheese or chicken hamburgers. Making sure to take all of the appropriate safety and health precautions, each serving is individually packaged by the volunteering families before being delivered to a secondary location to an ACAN member.
Fresh from the stovetops, these warm, delicious homemade meals are brought twice a week straight to various organizations around Austin who direct outreach to those in need around them. Recently, ACAN has also begun occasionally bulk-ordering meals from establishments such as Church’s Chicken or Costco, as they understand that many families have less time to cook now that schools are in session.
The very first organization that ACAN reached out to and partnered with was the Austin Emergency Medical Services, which supports over 500 homeless citizens in our city, many of them elderly. They saw that the EMS often only provided dried military food or canned food as meals to those they were supporting, and therefore decided that this needed to change. Thus, the idea of delivering homemade meals was born.
As the months progressed, the Meal Delivery Project gained more and more families willing to donate their time, money, and most importantly, a kitchen, to help out, and the project naturally expanded. Currently, in addition to the Austin EMS, ACAN is also donating to the Central Texas Table of Grace, foster care centers, and many other organizations that assist the low-income population of Austin. And in the future, they hope to expand even more.
Over 16,000 meals have been donated, and ACAN plans on continuing to donate so long as they’re within their budget and have eager volunteers. Amazing, right? The ACAN Meal Project has certainly been a ray of hope during these somewhat gloomy times. According to the project organizers Mrs. Angela Qian and Mrs. Lubing Zhang, they hope to not only support those most in need in our city during the COVID pandemic with (mouthwatering, if I do say so myself) meals homemade with care, but also inspire their volunteers with a message of positivity and civic responsibility.
The organizers are extremely proud of how much their volunteers themselves have grown by simply spending some quality time with their families, cooking meals. They’ve seen how everyone, young children and adults alike, are having fun participating and enjoying the cooking process, relaxing after a long week.
ACAN was founded as a response to the lack of unity and community-wide collaboration amongst Chinese-Americans living in Austin who wanted to help out their city but didn’t know where to begin. The Meal Delivery Project perfectly embodies their heartwarming mission to serve their community, while also strengthening the bond between the Chinese-Americans living in the area. The impact that the project has made is absolutely astounding, and its progress shows no signs of slowing as time passes. Keep going ACAN! You are doing amazing things for Austin, and the thousands of lives you’ve changed, even with just a simple home-cooked meal, are extremely grateful.