The Inspiring Pandemic Food Story That Sophie Flay Will Never Forget

The lockdown days of the pandemic were a very hard time for most Americans. Schools shut down, many workplaces went remote, and many, many people were out of work. The food industry was hit especially hard: Restaurants operate on slim margins on a good day, and pandemic restrictions often made it impossible to operate at a profit, if at all. many restaurants closed for long stretches or simply went out of business (via Lightspeed). One of the most vulnerable groups was food trucks since they depend on a steady supply of customers in a local area, and that supply mostly wasn't around during the height of the pandemic. Food trucks eventually found a way to adapt and overcome by using third-party apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, and by making themselves available to neighborhoods and special functions (per NPR) — but profits plummeted at first, and many mobile kitchens had to stop operations altogether.

Wage loss took its toll across the country as people fell behind on their rent, failed to pay their electricity bills, and went hungry (per The Pew Charitable Trusts and EWG). Some of those struggles continue, especially when it comes to energy bills, as costs skyrocket and people's ability to pay their bills shows no signs of improving (via Bloomberg). Losing power at home — and knowing that things may stay that way, is a real hardship. In times like these, most people tend to hunker down and circle the wagons.

But not everyone.

Serving others before serving himself

Many people — both big and small — in the food industry showed that they were in it, heart and soul. People may know about famous chef José Andrés' work during the pandemic through his World Central Kitchen. But one of the stories that most moved Sophie Flay, which was shared on Twitter, was that of a food truck owner in East Hollywood. Due to pandemic restrictions, street vendors weren't allowed to work at that time, and their power had been shut off at home. Most people would be anxious about their future, and how to take care of themselves.

But not this guy.  What worried him was that people were not getting fed, that they were going to bed hungry. Famous for his quesadillas, he went out and served 100 people free food every day.  He used whatever he could get his hands on made people the best thing he knew how: delicious, hot tortillas and cheese (plus meat, too, judging from the tweeted video). Not surprisingly, people lined up to be served his hot, expertly crafted Mexican goodness. This man was moved to act for his community. And his selfless act of love is the kind of example we all need more of in our lives, in every season.