Chilis on Wheels provides meals for Hub City residents in need
Plant-based positivity rolled into New Brunswick with Chilis on Wheels this past Sunday, delivering warm, vegan meals to those in need.
The Brooklyn based organization was established in November 2014 when Michelle Carrera, unable to find a vegan-based soup kitchen, opted to cook her own chili and serve the community. After receiving positive feedback from friends and family she committed to providing communities everywhere with plant-based meals alongside her son Ollie, according to their site.
The event took place at the New Brunswick train station intersecting George Street from noon to 3 p.m., inviting community members to help distribute meals to those in need regardless of their orientation or level of addiction, according to their page.
Upon hearing about the event through the Rutgers Veg Society, Sonia Hua, a school of engineering first-year, said a community program which offers vegan meals sounded like a great idea.
Riding the train to and from school every day exposes Hua to much of the homeless situation surrounding New Brunswick and incentivized her to help out, she said. She discovered some people would refuse the offerings because they had already eaten and wanted others to have enough.
“I felt the kindness the people had when they accepted the food we offered and directed us in areas that needed food the most,” she said.
Noting the hesitation in some people showed her that everyone experiences low times in their lives, Hua said.
“it is just as important to accept help from others as it is to help,” she said.
As the only current Rutgers student to attend the event, Hua was one among a crowd of postgraduates looking to better their community, she said. A lack of active promotion by the organization in its first New Brunswick installation meant students had not heard about the event were unable to attend.
Hua and other volunteers refrained from cooking and focused their energy on distributing food, she said.
“I am a vegan and I think it’s a great way to be kind on both levels. Showing kindness to the needy, and being kind in the ingredients,” she said.
Events like this can serve the community on a weekly basis, Hua said. With efficient ways of distribution and relocation of the organization to New Jersey, there is an opportunity to keep the momentum going.
“I would say to the students who weren't able to go if you have a dream of bettering this world, you need to get out there and connect with the community. Only then will you truly understand their needs,” she said.
After attending Carerra’s NY chapter, New Brunswick Chilis on Wheels event organizer Alexus Lizardi said she felt an organization like this could benefit the community. As a vegan and Rutgers alumna, she looks to serve others while respecting the animals.
The event prepared 50 chilis the morning of, Lizardi said. Under the supervision of Carerra and her son, the organization braced George street with food and waters in hand. Due to the heat, numbers were less than expected still provided plenty of people with a good meal, leaving leftovers at the Ozanam Shelter.
“It was great to be able to meet and spend the afternoon with volunteers who have similar values and talk to people in the community,” she said.
Every Sunday in the foreseeable future the organization will be continuing their outreach efforts, Lizardi said. Students looking to get involved can follow the group’s Facebook page to stay informed of upcoming events.
“I would love to have more volunteers, there is a lot to be done and we can do a lot if we have enough people,” she said.