Thuy Pham delivered ube char siu buns to the first round of meal recipients.

After this spring’s rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, a group of Asian American restaurant and food cart owners gathered to process their emotions and figure out how to heal and speak out. Those five restaurant and food cart owners—Thuy Pham of Mama Dút, Jacky Ren of Bing Mi, Aron Moxley of Stabs, Han Ly Hwang of Kim Jong Grillin’, and Richard Le of Matta—were the founding members of the Rice Bowl Posse, and invited other Asian American business owners to the following meetings to figure out how to best serve each other and Portland’s broader AAPI community. Now, the Rice Bowl Posse is helping the community by cooking and delivering free meals for AAPI seniors in Portland.

The idea for this new program started when Pham was driving with a friend to Sauvie Island. “He was telling me about a friend of his whose mom has been really scared to go grocery shopping ... because she had an encounter at one of the grocery stores in Beaverton where somebody told her to go back to her old country,” Pham recalls. Several other friends reported that they had seniors in their families that felt the same way. “That made me realize—why doesn’t Rice Bowl Posse do something?”

Pham's glass noodle salad

On Monday, August 2, the Rice Bowl Posse’s five original members cooked 15 meals each, then dropped them off at Mama Dút for delivery. Pham’s dishes, of course, were all vegan: ube char siu buns, glass noodle salad, and vegan cinnamon rolls. Ren made tofu fried rice, Le made a chicken and veggie stir fry, Moxley made chicken banh mi, and Hwang made meat with rice and banchan. Each of the 15 recipients received five meals to help them with their food needs throughout the week and allow them to try a variety of dishes. Pham made the first round of contactless deliveries herself—with nothing but positive reception.

“It makes me tear up just thinking about it—just to see the look on their faces, that people do care, and there’s a community out there that has them in their hearts,” she says.

The Rice Bowl Posse is now calling for volunteers to sign up online for weekly Monday deliveries through September.

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