The Los Panchos restaurant in Merced gave away free meals to individuals and families who lined up in cars — like a drive-thru — across the very large parking lot at the otherwise closed Bear Creek Plaza on Saturday.
The food included chicken fajitas, rice, beans, chile verde, and carnitas; however, after those food items were handed out, the chefs kept cooking until the kitchen was empty and all the food on site was given out.
“Giving back is like tradition for us,” said Chris Tristan of the Los Panchos. “We also have a toy drive during Christmas. That’s usually a group effort with other businesses. This time, we just came up with the idea on our own because we knew the community was in need.”
News of the event spread on social media sites, and cars started lining up well before noon when the food giveaway was suppose to start.
Tristan estimated they gave away between 450 and 500 meals of all types in just a few hours before supplies ran out.
He added that they may do something again next week, depending on if some expected supplies come in.