According to the South Plains Homeless Consortium, more than 400 people in Lubbock were counted homeless last year. Cesar Hernandez, a junior mechanical engineering major at Texas Tech, and three of his friends decided they wanted to do something about it.
It was about a year ago that Hernandez noticed the amount of people living on the streets and seized an opportunity to be a part of making a difference.
Through mutual friends, Hernandez met Michael Seymour, Kyle Shields and Michael Erwin. Together, they make up the crew of Lubbock Street Gourmet.
They began by handing out grab bags containing granola bars, socks, bottled water and other necessities. However, they wanted to do more.
“It’s about the experience,” Hernandez said. “We want to show them that someone cares enough to spend their day out there with them.”
With a food truck supplied by Seymour, the four co-founders began to cook gourmet meals, serving them at Grace Campus or driving around Lubbock and delivering them in to-go boxes.
“We form relationships with these people,” Hernandez said. “We know them by name, they know us by name.”
The goal is to give homeless people delicious, gourmet meals that they would not usually get. They serve anything from chili and burgers, to quesadillas, loaded baked potatoes and even Elvis Sandwiches, a delicacy made with peanut butter, banana and bacon.
Hitting the road every Sunday, the truck will serve anywhere from 70 to 100 meals in a day. The co-founders start in the afternoon with a little prep-work, but most of the action happens while they are cooking live.
Hernandez said he enjoys cooking, but it is neither here nor there.
“It’s more about helping people,” Hernandez said. “I’ll do whatever I can, whether that’s working the flat top, cutting up vegetables, or handing out water bottles.”
After finding out that it is not legal to cook out of their own home, the four applied for a permit and are waiting to have their food truck inspected—a minor setback they are hoping to overcome soon.
In the meantime, they have applied for charity status while they pair with organizations in Lubbock to raise money.
Lubbock Street Gourmet is run almost entirely out-of-pocket. They rely on supportive partners such as Monterrey High School who have been crucial in fundraising.
Monterrey students and staff help by creating grab bags, sending students to help serve and donating items such as caramel popcorn that are sold at the Lubbock Arts Festival or First Friday Art Trail to raise money.
People are encouraged to contact Lubbock Street Gourmet through their Facebook or website to learn more and find out how they can help.
Hernandez said he would like to reach all of the homeless people in Lubbock.
“Once we’re able to feed everyone, then we will have met our goal,” Hernandez said.