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Saturday March 25th 2023

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That's what she said

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Burrito Factory


Editor’s note:  Kit Basom originally wrote this piece to document the cross-cultural community support operating in the Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park.  It was used last summer in a fundraising effort and is reproduced here.

Photo courtesy Kit Basom

I have never seen this slender child before, but there is no mistaking the meaning of his gesture. When I open the front door to his timid knock, he looks up and points toward his open mouth.

He is hungry.

And I can see from his unnaturally red hair that he is not eating enough protein. I invite him in, talking quietly in English. He seems to understand my tone, although not my words. I look a bit frantically around my ill-provisioned kitchen (I am no cook) and come up with some soy cheese, a few grapes, and an apple. They disappear in moments.

As my little visitor leaves, I resolve to find a way to have some portable protein on hand, something that won’t spoil and that my little neighbors would like eating.

A plan emerges, and on a sunny Saturday, I set up two tables in the yard and put burrito ingredients in a line along them. As kids walk by and glance curiously into the yard, I invite them into the Burrito Factory. The first station is for hand washing. Then come the tortillas, the refried beans (homemade by my friend Mary), the roasted chicken, the cheese, and finally the ziplock bags for storage in my freezer. Business picks up quickly. Kids are moving down the assembly line, helping the little ones with the tricky folding, and then running back to the start of the line.

When we are done, we carry our armloads of burritos inside and set them in the formerly empty freezer. I point to the microwave and make sure they understand that they can stop by anytime they want and ask me to heat up a burrito for them.

For over a year, the kids come by, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups, and ask for burritos. Some seem hungry for the food. Others seem hungry for something more intangible. And I am glad they can find some of each at my home.

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