When Robert Maginet was driving around his West Town neighborhood in January, he couldn’t help but notice a tamale vendor who was freezing on one of the coldest days of the year.
He pulled over, and bought 25 dozen tamales – the vendor’s entire cart – and watched as tears filled her eyes. While they were hot, he distributed the tamales to homeless members in the community and throughout Love Fridges in the city.
West Town Feeds was born
The nonprofit West Town Feeds aims to feed those in need by providing 50 to 100 hot meals daily to our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
Magiet is the owner of the Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant, TaKorea Cocina, located in West Town and father of four.
He is active on several neighborhood Facebook groups, and once word spread about his mission, the donations came pouring in.
“I underestimated my influence in the community,” says Magiet, who has provided more than 15,000 meals to homeless residents at encampments and shelters and throughout Love Fridges in Chicago.
The homeless community isn’t used to getting hot meals delivered directly to them, he says.
“I take pride in bringing meals straight from the source to residents that need it,” says Magiet, who also grocery shops for neighbors in need. “This is food with dignity.”
Helping local restaurants
In addition to buying out street vendor carts, Magiet collaborates with neighborhood restaurants including Bartoli’s in West Town, The StopAlong in Bucktown and The Leader Bar in Irving Park to provide free pizzas to anyone who requests one.
“Partnering with other organizations brings more awareness to the issue of food insecurity, and it is much more effective to do it together than to all try to fight the same battle,” he says.
Magiet, who takes his eight-year-old son, Connor, with him to distribute meals, said this effort has led to meaningful discussions with his children about poverty and appreciation for nonmaterial items, like food and shelter.
“If someone needs help, it is our duty and privilege to help them,” he says. “This sets up the next generation to be compassionate and caring.”
How to help
Those wishing to make a donation that will be used to purchase food can do so via Venmo: @takoreacocina.
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