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ABC-7 Do-Gooder: El Pason sets up restaurant to provide free meals for hungry

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- An El Pasoan turned an idea the size of a mustard seed into a mission that fills the hearts and stomachs of the hungry.

"Our goal was to try and de-escalate the uncertainty and the panic," said Carmen Estrada.

She is talking about the pandemic.

In 2020 COVID shut down the city, but it didn't shut down the mission of the Mustard Seed Cafe.

"We made the decision to help our community, and we made a decision in less than 24 hrs," said Estrada. "We start working with the frontliners and with the first responders we provide lunch to them and we provide lunch to the community."

Estrada is the organization's Executive director. She and others helped turn the mission of providing a free meal once a week, into free meals daily. Available to everyone.

The help they provide has only grown.

"I think we started serving 50 meals a day. Now we are serving 450 meals a day," said Estrada. "We started doing everything for free. No requirement, no ID, no nothing, nothing, just feed hungry people."

Volunteers fully staff the Mustard Seed Cafe.

"Carmen is like having the holy spirit walk around here. She is so wonderful. She's such a diplomat. Every single one of us absolutely loves her," said Pakm Stevens, a volunteer.

Meals are prepared using produce grown at the Amigos Garden next door.

"We depend on the garden. The garden depends on us," said Estrada.

The Mustard Seed Cafe provides meals to five different shelters in the community. Carmen's efforts to help fight food insecurity have earned her recognition as an ABC-7's Do-Gooder.

Carmen plans to keep passing the plate by donating the Do-Gooder award of $1,000 to the Mustard Seed cafe.

"Our nature is to do good. Our nature is to serve. Our nature is to help. So just don't block the nature," said Estrada.

You can nominate someone who makes a difference in the community like Carmen for ABC-7 Do-Gooder. Just follow this link to the submission form on

ABC-7's Do-Gooder is sponsored by the El Paso Community Foundation and Gozo's Ice cream.

Article Topic Follows: Do-Gooder

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