The Burrito Project

The+Burrito+Project

"Food project 23 - Leftover mini-burritos" by dimitridf is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Shavonne Pucula, News Editor

A cold rainy night fell over Buffalo, the homeless waiting in a line at the corner, shivering and huddled together like penguins waiting for their weekly burritos — cars start to pull into the bus station and a little hope starts to flow back into their smiles as the youth unload their boxes and set up rows upon rows of burritos, snacks, and water; the youth share their greetings and the homeless start to move forward to see hats and gloves were also there and ask one of the members, Adam Weber, to join in prayer as they thank god for this blessing.

Two cyclists started the Burrito Project starting with just 4 burritos. The project took off and made its way to the east coast — to our humble home of buffalo. Taking place every Tuesday and starting with only three churches who had to do at least two Tuesdays a month. Soon enough, more churches started to join and others joined when there was an extra Tuesday in the month to help make sure the homeless were fed.

As the Burrito Project became more of a thing the homeless started to line up — whether it be a heatwave or a snowstorm — waiting for the youth groups to make their way downtown. Some of them became regulars and bonds started to form.

Weber had to find a way to meet the service hour requirement for his church. Being a youth leader himself, he was debating on either having a second youth night a month where members would come to church in the evening, play games, have some food, and hang out with one another inside the warmth of their second homes or do a community outreach program.

Weber’s pastor, being good friends with the pastor at Holy Trinity who takes part in The Burrito Project, mentioned it to Weber. Weber took a liking to the sound of the Burrito Project, chose it as his youth group’s community outreach program, and soon became one of the main churches to attend.

If able to, Weber also does mission trips to Haiti to help out in any way he can. Unable to go this year, New Era Cap Company was contacted and donated a couple of hundred baseball caps. Weber took them to the Burrito Project and gave them away. Any donations the church gets, they give. Sometimes, they hand out care packages and in the winter they hand out hats, gloves, jackets, and blankets.

Just like that, their Tuesday came around. Weber arrived at church an hour early, set up all the ingredients and got to work. With the help of his community, they took tortilla shells and filled them with rice, kidney beans, pinto beans, onions, garlic, salsa, and some shredded cheese. They packed the burritos into boxes, grabbed some snacks, water, goodie bags, and clothes, and headed to downtown Buffalo.

Starting at the corner of Ellicott st and N Division, they set up and start. If there are leftovers, they walk through Fireman’s park and towards the homeless Jesus statue. On this route, they stop for people on the street and homeless shelters if able to.

From participating in the burrito project, where he has been a member for over a year, Weber started realizing how bad the homeless population is in Buffalo and the number of people with a mental illness and those who abuse drugs, and some who are a combination.

Weber soon realized the extent of the homeless population in Buffalo from participating in The Burrito Project. Once he started to see the same faces appear over again and started to realize the level of mental illness, drug abuse, or the number of people who were unfortunate to have both, his eyes opened to the reality of how life is for others.

Weber went from being open and excited to talk about his second job on The Burrito Project to closing up and his voice wavering.

Before Weber volunteered for the Burrito Project, he volunteered at a homeless shelter Friends of Night People. Just like The Burrito Project, he became familiar with the people who showed up continuously. At one point in his time there, a pregnant lady showed up frequently. She was about 8 months along looking tired and ready to birth her child. According to Weber, it was also sadly apparent that she was high on heroin. When Weber came back a month later he saw her again — this time without a baby. Another volunteer spoke up and asked what everyone was thinking “Where’s your baby?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” was all she said in response.

The Burrito Project has impacted Weber in more ways than he would have imagined. When he fulfils his service hour requirements he still wants to pursue The Burrito Project and do more projects like the mission trips he takes to Haiti.

If you want to help out click here and find ways in which you can partake in The Burrito Project!