Bianca Loza passes a plate of tacos through the window of El Premio Mayor’s trailer and calls for the next order. She keeps pushing out tacos like this, three at a time on white plastic foam plates, for the next half hour until the line that’s formed in the parking lot just off Eaton Plaza in downtown Fresno finally dies down.
She never asks for payment. Tonight, the tacos are free.
El Premio Mayor partnered with the Fresno Grizzlies and the organizers of the Taco Truck throwdown to help feed the homeless Thursday night. The group caravanned through downtown Fresno, stopping at several sites where the homeless typically gather. Along with the tacos, the group handed out blankets and socks. There were even a few Fresno Taco sweaters.
Organizer Mike Osegueda came up with the idea while thinking of ways to teach his 5-year-old son about the spirit of giving. He was surprised he’d never thought of it before.
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“It make so much sense,” he says. Taco trucks are the ultimate in mobile food, making it perfect for getting to a population that tends to be scattered. And taking tacos out into the community like this shows that the throwdown is about more than a single annual event, he says.
“Let’s do more than have people come buy tacos at the stadium once a year,” Osegueda says.
El Premio Mayor was the perfect partner, he says. The family – which owns the trailer and a truck and two restaurants – is the reigning Taco Truck throwdown champion, after all. They’ve also done this kind of giving before.
“That’s just something we’ve always done. It’s just a helping hand,” Loza says. It’s her mother’s influence showing, she says.
For the past three years, the restaurant has made and donated burritos to the Poverello House around this time of year. This is the first time they’ve done tacos and the first time they brought the trailer along. Loza expects to serve 250 or more over the course of the evening, but says they will stay out until all the tacos are gone.
“We’re going to hand out as many tacos as we can,” she says.
Paul Sanchez takes his tacos with the salsa on the side. Ulcers, he says. He is currently living on the street and trying to get into an apartment and says things are particularly tough this time of year. The temperature is starting to drop.
“This right here is a blessing,” he says. “The food is great, but the blankets (are) a necessity right now.”