Javier Acuna

Javier Acuna, owner of Sante Fe Mexican Grill and Pachamama, has launched a project to provide meals to those in need during the coronavirus crisis while also helping keep some of his workers employed.

Yet another Newark restaurateur has launched a project to provide meals to those in need during the coronavirus crisis while also helping keep some of his workers employed.

The Food First Delaware project was founded by Javier Acuna, who owns Santa Fe Mexican Grill, Pachamama Rotisserie Chicken and Mi Ranchito Mexican Food Mart in Newark, as well as Del Pez Mexican Gastropub and Savanna Salad Bowls & Sandwiches in Wilmington.

The project allows people to purchase meals and grocery baskets for hospital workers, first responders and people in need.

“We’re well-connected with providers,” Acuna said. “The right thing to do is connect products with people who need it the most.”

Those interested in donating can visit www.foodfirstde.com and choose between purchasing a meal ($15) a family-size meal for four ($48), a bag of groceries ($28) or a boxed breakfast/lunch for 12 to 15 people ($153).

Individual and family meals will go to nonprofit agencies to distribute to their clients. Boxed breakfasts and lunches will go to health care providers and first responders.

Once donations are made, Acuna and his staff will work with the recipient to determine a menu and then deliver the food. The items will come from one of his restaurants or his food store.

“We have the manpower to do it and the facilities and the training to keep people safe,” Acuna said.

Besides providing a way to connect donors to those in need, the program gives Acuna a way to keep his businesses afloat during the coronavirus shutdown. He had to lay off almost his entire staff, but has been able to bring back some employees to run First Food Delaware.

He hopes to get other restaurants involved as well and plans to continue the effort until things get back to normal.

“We’ll be here as long as we have support,” Acuna said. “We’ll go through this together.”

With the launch of Food First Delaware, Acuna’s restaurants join at least two other downtown Newark establishments that are finding ways to help the community during the pandemic.

For every takeout or delivery meal ordered from Caffé Gelato, the restaurant will deliver a free meal to healthcare workers at Christiana Hospital. Meanwhile, Home Grown Café also launched a fundraiser to deliver free meals to the hospital.

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