When chef Stephanie Willis saw the devastating impact that Winter Storm Uri was having on communities in Texas last month — leaving hundreds of thousands without power, water, and food — she knew that Everybody Eats had to do something. The community-driven mutual aid group helmed by five black chefs hold food and essentials drives with a team of volunteers around Philly on a biweekly basis. “We started Everybody Eats because there aren’t a lot of people who look like us who help people like us,” Willis says. And hearing that low-income people of color were struggling in the wake of the storm, Everybody Eats saw an opportunity to use their organizing skills to do even more good.
This weekend, the group will travel to Texas to host a food drive for those affected by the storm.
Soon after the storm hit, the team spoke with community leaders in Houston and Dallas to see if there was still need, looking to contribute where they could be most helpful. But it wasn’t until a family member of Willis’s in San Antonio shared stories of food insecurity in his city that they decided to organize one of their outdoor food drives for residents there. “They were hit very hard,” Willis says. “There are still issues getting water.” Using their connections with food distributors, Everybody Eats was able to source water, supplies, and ingredients to cook at the Agape Christian Church in San Antonio from 2 p.m. onwards this Saturday. “Our situation is unique in that we’re all chefs first,” Willis says. “So we love to feed people.”
The initial plan was to set up shop and cook chicken at the event, “but then we realized we can’t do barbecue in Texas,” Willis says, laughing. “We wanted to give a taste of Philadelphia.” There was no more obvious choice than cheesesteaks, which four of the five Everybody Eats chefs will cook to-order and distribute for free at the outdoor event. Everybody Eats also enlisted volunteers from the church and other local organizations to make sure they are collaborating with the community they’re serving. The group will be distributing boxes of produce and water, too — just like an Everybody Eats event back home.
Willis believes this won’t be the last time the organization lends a hand to other communities outside of Philadelphia, but they’ve also got big plans for growing at home, with a kitchen space and a community garden to come in the future. “You’re not just coming to get a grocery box. We look like you, we talk like you. It’s not charity,” Willis says. “We want to continue to spread love, especially in communities that are overlooked and underserved. We want to help.”
- How to Help Feed People in Need During Austin’s Winter Weather Crisis [Eater Austin]
- Winter Weather Crisis Is Also a Food Crisis [Eater]
- When Government Could Not, Mutual Aid Kept Texans’ Needs Met Through Winter Storm Uri [Eater Houston]
- A Juneteenth Celebration Led by Philly Chefs Plans to Give Out Hundreds of Meals to the Community [EP]