A group of generous neighbors in Austin, organized under the name Recycled Love, are providing support to the community in the form of free food and essential supplies.
The group primarily focuses on providing daily meals to about 50 people living in tents and cars in East Austin’s Tillery and Zaragoza camps, but they also donate essential items like hygiene products and bug spray.
Free Food Initiative Gained Traction During the Pandemic
The initiative first began in 2020 when three inspirational people in Austin — community members Colleen Tabolt, Jessica Jarrett and Eugenia Harris — realized they were already providing free food to the community separately and decided to join forces to increase their capacity to help. With many people suddenly finding extra spare time in their schedules due to the pandemic, more and more volunteers came forward to help, and Recycled Love quickly gained traction.
The group started simple with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, opting for a classic snack that could easily be made in bulk.
While they still mix PB&Js into the rotation, the group has evolved over the past year to offer more complex and nutritious meals like red beans and rice, noodle bowls and chicken salad lunch boxes. Recycled Love provides the camps with meals six days a week, while Austin Mutual Aid provides meals on Thursdays.
Recycled Love Wants to Support Immediate & Long-Term Needs
People who want to help can pitch in by purchasing supplies for the group. They have an Amazon wish list detailing what they need.
“We are providing about 40 meals per day and this can be anything from a PBJ Sandwich, fruit, and chips….to a Hot Meal like Spaghetti, Stew or Soup! It’s really up to you, we just like to include fruit and make it as delicious, healthy, and full of love as we can!” the group’s page on signup.com reads. “We have a team of about 4 people who are committed to making and delivering lunches, but part of our goal in delivering the lunches is getting to know the people and finding out their needs…immediate (a blanket or socks) and bigger or long term needs (housing, shelter, treatment, medical, etc).”
Recycled Love joins other inspiring community movements like Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, an initiative driven by the Canadian Sikh community that feeds thousands of people each day. And we’ve seen companies decide to give back during this critical time —one meal delivery company donated 10,000 meals during the pandemic.
Recycled Love Looking for Volunteers to Help Prepare Free Food
Recycled Love also supports other community organizations like the Austin Mutual Aid Group, which is organizing a fundraiser to support harm reduction in the area. So far, the group has raised nearly half of their $5,000 goal.
Recycled Love is currently working to involve as many community members as possible so they can continue providing nutritious and free meals to those in need. If you’re interested in joining the group’s mission, sign up to help Recycled Love make lunches.