Nourishing Essential Workers

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
Our team is a tight-knit group of committed individuals who come from all backgrounds. Comprised of chefs, bartenders, marketing brand workers, they come together every day, to work hard, and take care of the people who took care of them every day in their careers.

When Los Angeles experienced its first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, Damián Diaz and Othón Nolasco wasted no time helping one of the city’s most vulnerable groups – undocumented restaurant and hospitality workers. 

This is why we show up and work every day. We believe that it’s necessary for the next generation of leaders to learn why we fight. To teach kids whose skin is a similar shade to theirs, that a life of service to others in need, is the way.

With restaurants shuttered, unauthorized immigrants working back-of-the house jobs, such as line cooks, dishwashers, and sous- chefs, were sidelined with no pay or government assistance. Diaz and Nolasco, founders of Va’La Hospitality, a bar consultancy group, immediately stepped in to ensure these workers would have enough to eat. They created No Us Without You LA, a  nonprofit focused on providing food relief to undocumented workers struggling through the pandemic. 

“We realized the majority of the people that we worked with in kitchens weren’t going to be able to get any unemployment insurance,” Nolasco says. “They really were worried; they were sharing with us that they didn’t know how they were gonna feed their kids.”

Initially, the duo set out to feed 30 families a week, using their own money to buy them groceries. During the height of the COVID crisis, their efforts expanded. As word spread locally and donations poured in, they turned their Boyle Heights office into a food distribution center. They distributed over 100,000 pounds of food weekly to over 1,600 families in crisis.

Today, No Us Without You LA continues to provide $100+ worth of food to roughly 700 families on a bi-weekly basis. Through 2023, the nonprofit will continue to feed undocumented workers in need in appreciation of the essential role these individuals play in the community. 

The nonprofit has also expanded its reach beyond restaurant workers to serve housekeepers, day laborers, street food vendors, and other largely undocumented workers who can’t receive social services from the government despite paying taxes and contributing to the local economy. The immigrants No Us Without You LA serves mostly hail from Mexico and Central America, but they include individuals from countries such as Ukraine, Nigeria, Lebanon, and Haiti, Nolasco says.

“It’s not just a Hispanic thing,” he says. “It’s about anyone who comes to this country that just needs a little help.”


No Us Without You LA

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(213) 645-8600
Co-Founder: Othón Nolasco


No Us Without You LA(501c3) provides food security for the undocumented immigrants who are the backbone of the hospitality industry in the greater Los Angeles area. These hard-working women and men who have, for years, fulfilled the unforgiving back of house restaurant positions, now find themselves in the vulnerable position of being  unemployed, with little to no government assistance.

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The families deserve our support and love. The system has turned its back on the very people who are the foundation of our food system. NUWY offers an opportunity to make things right. Plus it’s a joy to be a part of such a kind caring community, the families are wonderful.
Silamith Mclean

Your Donation is a Food Safety Net for Mothers and Children

No Us Without You feeds a family of four for $33 via donations, food recovery, and their own self-sufficient garden and event space in Los Angeles. The organization gives immigrant workers a critical safety net and food security for their families. Serving 700 families three times per month with an all-volunteer staff, they hope to grow their services and eliminate their waitlist in the coming year. A donation of $4,000 per month would fully go towards serving an extra 200 families and help feed the next generation. 

Key Supporters

Diageo PLC
Heinekin USA
Tito’s Vodka
United Way of Los Angeles
Casa Vega
Hunter PR
Everson Royce
Lush Life Productions
Vesta Food Service
Sysco Los Angeles
Food Forward
Kids of Immigrants
Lettuce Grow
Studio UNLTD
World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Rizzo’s Curls
Liquid Death
City of Los Angeles
Los Angeles County