When Jeanette Padilla began raising money for a Christmas dinner to feed the unsheltered back in December 2020, she raised a lot more than anticipated. After feeding over 200 people, “We thought, ‘Let’s keep feeding people,’” she says. “We saw that there was a real need beyond what we were able to do for Christmas.” The surplus donations ran out three months later, and the Food Justice Coalition (FJC) took its place with Padilla at the helm, providing nutrient-dense, vegan meals on a nearly weekly basis.
The FJC is community-powered at every step: A volunteer team prepares the meals before distributing the same day to several unsheltered encampments around Salt Lake. Monetary donations help purchase ingredients, and local restaurants such as Publik Ed’s donated kitchen space when it had closed due to the pandemic. Other restaurants and small farms donate surplus food, helping to avoid food waste.