For over five years, the NYC chapter of Chilis on Wheels has been working to make veganism accessible to communities in need. Founded by Michelle Carrera in 2014, they run meal shares on Saturdays in Tompkins Square Park and on Fridays in Harlem. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, they've been working with families throughout Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and The Bronx to provide them with free vegan groceries and hot meals, organized by Eloisa Trinidad and supported by donations, organizations, and restaurants, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Grow NYC, Modern Love Brooklyn, Support + Feed (run by Billie Eilish's mother Maggie Baird), Spicy Moon NYC, The V Spot, Marvel Produce, and Monk's Meats.

Longtime BrooklynVegan contributing photographer Stephanie Augello has been volunteering with Chilis on Wheels, and she photographed a few of their recent events, which you can find pictures of in the gallery below. Here's more from her about them:

Outside Dance Atlantic in Brooklyn: This event was a collaboration with a few organizations. BP Eric Adams was there to help distribute groceries and masks to residents of Cypress Hills/East New York. The most wonderful thing about this event is that it was organized by a woman who had received grocery assistance from Chilis on Wheels at the beginning of the pandemic. When she was no longer in need of aid, she immediately decided to give back to others in need.

Tompkins Square Park: Each week Chilis sets up a free vegan meal share in Tompkins Square Park.

Brooklyn Borough Hall: BP Eric Adams lent a space in Brooklyn Borough Hall to the group so that they had a central location for packing pandemic relief groceries. On this particular day, we loaded up a donation of fresh produce that was provided by Grow NYC. I took these photos on Juneteenth. As we were loading up cars, people started to gather on the steps of Borough Hall in honor of the day. In capturing something that's been part of my day-to-day, I also stepped into history as it happened.

Sunnyside, Queens: Vegan writer Leah Kirts set up a Chilis meal share at the 46th/Bliss 7 stop in Sunnyside. They're on location every Saturday from 1-3 PM distributing both hot meals and grocery items. When I got there on Saturday, I walked straight into the beginning of a protest.

Chilis on Wheels is accepting donations, and you can also donate food items, space, and your time as a volunteer. Here's a little more on that:

We accept in-kind donation of foods. We are collecting food every Saturday at Tompkins Square Park at 2pm. We can also pickup donations, please get in touch at info@chilisonwheels.org

ITEMS NEEDED:
Fresh produce
Plant-based milks
Peanut Butter
Fruit preserves (jam)
Whole wheat bread
Pasta
Tomato Sauce
Canned Veggies
Rice
Beans
Applesauce

We are also in need of donated space! If you have a location that is not currently being used or closed during the pandemic, please consider allowing us to use it to store dry goods and pack all the grocery bags. Get in touch with us at info@chilisonnwheels.org

We are always in need of volunteers to help us pack the grocery bags; and drivers to help us transport the food and donations to people that need them! We follow strict safety protocols to keep everyone safe. Get in touch with us at info@chilisonwheels.org

photos by Stephanie Augello