Paso Robles’ Órale Taqueria, a locally owned and operated Mexican restaurant, is expanding its “Adopt a Family” meal program, amid requests from the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program began with Órale sponsoring free weekly meals “on us,” with one meal going out to a local family in need throughout April. Once the community heard about it, people immediately began asking the restaurant owners how they could donate to the cause – and get even more meals out there to help more families.

“It just shows that we’re all in this together,” says restaurant owner Joel Casillas. “This response has been unexpected, but so inspiring. I think we’re all looking for ways to make a difference.”Wife and Co-owner Kristin Casillas adds, “We have been blown away by this. We announced our ‘Adopt a Family’ program on [the local evening news] on the Saturday before Easter. Monday morning, a man walked in with $200 cash, wanting to donate.”

The owners quickly set up a place for donations online. Within the first week, Órale received $900, enough to feed 20 families. Since then, donations have been steadily coming in – from $25 contributions up to one woman asking the restaurant to use her CARES Act stimulus check to feed needy families.

Órale has adjusted its operations in response to increased demand, and the owners say they plan to continue their own free weekly meals alongside community-donated meals. If you would like to donate, whether to a specific family or the cause in general, Órale is accepting donations via their website.

“Our staff, our customers, our vendors, and even our ‘competitors’ have become our tribe. It’s always been about the people and what food can do as an advocate for the community,” added Kristin.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles