Austin restaurants are banding together to help Camp Esperanza during the holidays
Free Lunch, a mutual aid group that's served more than 75,000 meals to Austinites experiencing homelessness, is partnering with more than a dozen restaurants and businesses in Austin to feed the residents at Camp Esperanza.
The 12-day campaign seeks to raise money for Free Lunch’s kitchen at Esperanza, which is managed by The Other Ones Foundation. The site has served as a home for Austinites transitioning out of homelessness since 2019. Free Lunch started providing meal services shortly after the pandemic started in 2020.
The campaign is a choose-your-own-adventure situation. You can pick and choose which way you'd like to indirectly donate, or visit multiple restaurants to make your dollars go further for the group's meal services at Esperanza.
Jazz Mills helped start that effort during the pandemic. She said they’ve provided more than 75,000 meals since then. Mills hopes the campaign is an easy way for Austinites to give back to people getting out of homelessness, but also she hopes it inspires people who haven’t engaged in helping unhoused Austinites.
"We're hopefully empowering other people – just average regular-old people – to jump in and fill a need that they can see and basically believe in themselves, believe in the power of community," she said. "And I think our work out at the Esperanza Community is really evident of that.”
You can check out a full rundown of the Free Lunch campaign below. The group is also hosting its annual benefit Dec. 16 at Sagebrush.
- Joanne’s Fine Foods will donate a portion of its sales between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. to Free Lunch.
- Burn Slow will have custom Free Lunch-branded shirts available at the Empire's Emporium pop-up market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Net proceeds will be donated to Free Lunch. Shirts can be ordered online, as well.
- Hotel Vegas will donate a portion of its sales from noon to 2 a.m. to Free Lunch.
- Bufalina will donate all sales from its Margherita pizza to Free Lunch from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Starting Dec. 4, Black Star Co-op will donate $1 from every beer sold to Free Lunch. The donations will continue through the end of the year.
- Allday Pizza is coming out with a new beer to support Free Lunch and is donating a portion of the proceeds to the group.
- LeRoy and Lewis will donate a portion of sales made to Free Lunch.
- Tweedy’s will donate a portion of proceeds made from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. to Free Lunch.
- Radio Coffee & Beer is donating all sales of Austin Beer Works' Pearl Snap beer on Dec. 7 at its original Menchaca location to Free Lunch.
- Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop will donate 10% of sales to Free Lunch.
- Zee’s Weiner Systems will donate some of its sales from its pop-up at LoLo’s wine bar to Free Lunch.
- Rockstar Bagels will give 10% of all sales to Free Lunch.
- Justine’s is giving a share of its proceeds from sales to Free Lunch.
- Lou’s on Barton Springs will give a share of proceeds to Free Lunch.