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COVID-19: Before and After

3 volunteers standing in a room next to tables filled with brown paper bags


February 21, 2020

Volunteer Group: Alpha Phi Omega

162 guests served


The Staff/volunteers of TACO (and I) absolutely love hosting SDSU service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Their youthful enthusiasm literally lights up the space. They have been loyal volunteers for years, and served like pros during a meal for 162 guests. Even the menu was extra fun: Cheesy Eggs (big favorite), Chicken Ramen Soup, Salads, and Doughnuts. The day was partly cloudy, and rain threatened the next day. We always take this seriously, and volunteers Jude and Mac helmed our donation table to give out jackets and blankets to over 40 people.  All in all another meal to be proud of… my birthday beckoned… whispers of a virus out there…



March 20, 2020

No volunteer group

112 guests served

The virus had arrived, and change was immediate!  Stay at Home unless essential. Is TACO essential?  YES, so now what?  Chef Cindy implemented changes, and the meal became take-out with a minimum of volunteers. In the background, volunteer cancellations began cascading into my inbox.

However, we were still not quite there.  At a passionate post-meal meeting, new rules were adopted. To-go only, NO congregating, a new table set up for meals, and strict guidelines including masks for all volunteers. Tough love to be sure, the sense of community is significantly less, but the compassionate thing to do. When it’s a matter of life and death, things become very clear very quickly.



April 13, 2020

Our new Monday group of volunteers

119 guests

Masks on…


Kim at the front, Francis and Leah behind the food tables, Nancy handing out smoothies, and Jack (our self-proclaimed “great schlepper”) running food. Across the patio… Rebekah, serving coffee (such a pro); Victoria handing out socks/hygiene.

Inside, Bruce, Barbara, and Randy assembling meals and keeping things organized/clean. Watching over it all… TACO treasure, Wayne.

Herein lies some of TACO’s magic… less than two weeks in, we had an entirely new meal service, AND it was running like a well-oiled machine.

We still have our circles (so important), and a debriefing post-meal as well. Our family feels even closer, with everyone having a stake/say.

The old sense of camaraderie remains, and volunteers are enjoying themselves despite the uncertainty hanging over the world.

Yet our beloved guests tell a different story. More desperation, more need, and more fear as their world literally falls apart around them. Despite shelter at the convention center, hundreds are left out.  Many have no idea of their options, and we work to help them. Downtown is a ghost town, populated by unsheltered people living in small tent encampments ignored by all (even the police). 

To our volunteers, you represent everything that is good with human kind… you give TACO the power/ability to accomplish whatever we set our minds to doing.  I know this, because I have seen it again and again.

To our guests, TACO exists for YOU!  We work for YOU!  We will always serve YOU!

In a recent interview, super volunteer Francis stated “the goodness of humanity is coming out as much as the horror stories we see on television” “people are essentially good, and we can be examples of that.” 



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