Welcome to Tacos Everyday’s “People behind the events” segment. We will be talking with Eric Hubbard from Jovenes, Inc. He is the Development Director of the L.A. Taco Festival
So how did you get the idea start the festival?
The team behind the LA Taco Festival are not actually taco experts- we’re dedicated to solving the problem of youth homelessness. We run a non-profit organization in Los Angeles called Jovenes, Inc. (www.jovenesinc.org). Jovenes is a place of personal transformation for homeless youth between the ages of 18-25. We provide everything from emergency shelter to permanent housing, helping youth get off the streets and into an apartment of their own.
So five years ago, our organization was in desperate need of new funding, so we had an ambitious idea to bring our city together and support our youth by celebrating a food we all love: TACOS! Somehow, there wasn’t a Taco Festival in LA, so we jumped on the opportunity to close off a few streets, showcase some of East LA’s tastiest tacos, bring in some awesome bands, and create a unique experience where people can get full, have fun, and support a great cause.
And its working! Since we started the LA Taco Festival, Jovenes has more than tripled in size and now we’re housing more youth than ever! Tacos can help end youth homelessness!
What is some background on the festival?
Until this year, we held the LA Taco Festival in our home community of Boyle Heights, which is a cultural center of LA. The Festival continued to grow, so we’re moving it to a new location this year: Grand Park (http://grandparkla.org
) in the heart of Downtown. We’ll have about 20 taco vendors, a full day of music, kid-friendly activities and more!
What is your favorite part of The festival?
Organizing an event like this is really stressful. But there’s always a moment midway through the day when I see people eating, laughing, and coming together. I always hear people say “it’s cool that this is for a charity,” which makes me happy because I really believe that people want to help out and see our city solve problems like youth homelessness.
And then there’s the impact that it has on our youth. Throughout the festival, I see them smile and forget about the challenges they face and trauma they’ve gone through. They feel normal and are eager to volunteer and help out. It’s really inspiring to see thousands of people come together over tacos and a shared belief that everyone can make a positive impact in our community.
Do you guys run any contests to win tickets ?
The LA Taco Festival is a free event to attend, making it one of the most accessible food events in our city. The other food events are pretty expensive to attend, and we want to make sure that the LA Taco Festival is something that a family or big group of friends can check out and enjoy. Throughout the event, we’ll be encouraging people to make tax-deductible donations to Jovenes so we can keep expanding our programs for homeless youth and keep it as a free event.
To donate, just text the word TACOS to 41444 or go to http://bit.ly/DonateTacos
Is there fun for the whole family there?
Definitely! Grand Park is a wonderful location to bring the family! There’s an awesome fountain to play in, there will be arts & crafts activities, face painting, and more!
And last but not least, what is your favorite type of taco?
Give me a couple tacos al pastor on a Saturday afternoon, and I’m in heaven!