Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Los Angeles community efforts keep striking teachers’ bellies warm

Jasmine Martinez
Los Angeles community members come together to feed the LAUSD teachers who were on strike. Negotiations were reached between the union and the district Jan. 22.

Coming together in a collective effort, Los Angeles community members took it upon themselves to keep the bellies of striking teachers full and warm with free food and services.

A flood of support came in the form of parents providing homemade meals, a nearby cafe owner offering coffee and pastries out of his own budget and a GoFundMe account that exceeded its initial $1,000 goal by more than $40,000.

“Tacos for Teachers,” the fundraising account created by the International Socialist Organization and Democratic Socialists of America, not only meant to feed the estimated 32,000 teachers on strike, but the campaign also brought awareness as well.

The account reached $15,000 the week before teachers even went on strike.

Victor Hernandez, organizer for the ISO, showed up in a taco costume and drove around the city, making sure teachers got their tacos. To him, it’s L.A., so tacos made sense.

“The teachers are coming out, they’re not getting paid and they’re sacrificing a lot, so then the best thing we can do is provide them with some warm food and show them that we are out here to support,” Hernandez said, “It’s working class power and that’s what we believe in.”

Tacos El Campeon set up shop outside Lincoln High School the morning of Jan. 18, serving a sea of teachers in red with bright smiles on their faces.

Martha Avila Mendez, co-business owner of Tacos El Campeon, said their business would visit as many schools as possible, since her children also attend LAUSD schools.

Owner of Maracas Cafe and Catering, Miguel Contreras, also emphasized the importance of community efforts for a cause. Contreras has been in the business for years and supports LAUSD by providing what he can.

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“They’ve been supportive to us ever since we started business, it’s just something that’s in my heart,” Contreras said, “We take [different schools] coffee or danishes, Mexican bread, soup, whatever they need.”

He uses his own income to provide treats and is up by 4 a.m. most mornings to prepare for his drives and drop-offs.

According to Contreras, the teachers, who are like second parents to the children, have shown much appreciation, not only with their words, but with joyful and happy expressions.

Support has not only been evident on national and business levels, but down to those who can be closest to teachers, the students’ parents.

Luptia Aguilar and Adriana Miranda brought homemade dishes like pozole, tortas, potato tacos and more everyday of the strike last week, rain or shine.

Before teachers made their way to Los Angeles City Hall to march, the two made sure to pack them lunch bags including a sandwich, juice and other snacks to help them maintain their energy.

Jennifer Trochez, LAUSD elementary school teacher, says she and the rest of the teachers are genuinely touched, fortunate and blessed to have the community show up to the picket lines with them.

Trochez earnestly said, “In my classroom, I teach my students about building community and about how we are all there to support each other and we’re learners and together we work for the better of everybody.”

The teachers constantly thanked the providers with their words, but Trochez is adamant on showing appreciation through actions soon, as they have refused any donations.

“We start off with thank you and we’ll do something for them afterward once things settle down,” said Trochez.

Contreras said he will be there 100 percent for the teachers as long as the strike goes on.

Seeing the GoFundMe as a giant donation to the strike find, Hernandez said the remaining funds are going directly to the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools.

Negotiations were reached Jan. 22 and teachers will resume teaching classrooms Jan. 23.

Strikers’ chants of, “Se ve, se siente, el pueblo está presente,” ended up telling no lies.

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Jasmine Martinez
Jasmine Martinez, Editor-in-Chief
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    Veronica RangelJan 24, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you for this gift. It was well written and it captured the strike at Gates St. with authentic information. Great work. I really liked the ending and how it worked with the theme of your piece.

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Los Angeles community efforts keep striking teachers’ bellies warm