Arkansas-based taco restaurant Tacos 4 Life announced Friday that they had donated 5 million meals to children and families in need.
The 5 million meal milestone is one that co-founder Austin Samuelson said the company had in mind from the beginning.
“This is a goal we set when we opened Tacos 4 Life less than four years ago, and to reach it quicker than expected is incredible,” Samuelson said in a news release. “This absolutely would not have been possible without the help and dedication of our guests!”
During a MobilePack event in Conway the week before, volunteers packed 478,656 meals for the people of Haiti, Tacos 4 Life Director of Missions Kevin Chenoweth said. The two-day event consisted of three two-hour packing periods from Thursday night to Friday afternoon at the Conway Expo Center, located at 2505 E. Oak St. in Conway.
For each meal sold, the for-profit company donates $0.22 to Feed My Starving Children. That money is used for MannaPacks, which are filled by volunteers at events like the one in Conway.
Volunteers filled Feed My Starving Children MannaPacks with rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins. Each pack holds six meals. The rice is the heaviest ingredient in the MannaPacks. It arrived at the expo center in large white sacks, each of which weighed a ton, and was scooped into plastic MannaPack baggies.
After the MannaPacks are filled, Feed My Starving Children and Tacos 4 Life partner with other organizations to ship and distribute the food. Convoy of Hope is transporting the nearly 500,000 meals packed this month to Haiti, Chenoweth said.
Independent of Tacos 4 Life, Feed My Starving Children holds packing events all over the country. During this year’s mobile pack, students from Conway Christian and other local schools, as well as Acxiom and Aramark employees, volunteered.
Brandon Turner, an IT help desk manager at Acxiom, was one of 60 volunteers from the company. This was his second time at a MobilePack event.
“I love the [Tacos 4 Life] story and what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Turner said. He said he enjoyed giving back and loved the representation of Acxiom giving back as a company, as well as the team-building experience.
The organization originally projected that 544,000 meals would be packed at this event. In 2019, they’re aiming to pack 1 million meals during the Conway MobilePack event.
Chenoweth expects Tacos 4 Life to raise 3 – 4 million meals in 2018 alone. On average, each restaurant – and there now are 11 locations – raises about 1,000 meals each day. Chenoweth said Tacos 4 Life is planning to open five more restaurants in 2018, for a total of eight new restaurants this year.
The next Tacos 4 Life MobilePack is set for the Little Rock Statehouse Convention Center on Sept. 22.