OC restaurant giving away hundreds of meals to seniors in need for Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, falls on the same day as the Chinese Lunar New Year. COVID-19 has changed celebration plans, but that's not stopping one local restaurant from reaching out to its community with a helping hand to brighten the holiday.

"This is the biggest celebration. So for us this sets the tone for the year. Families getting together, honoring our ancestors on our alters. It's a very, very big deal," said Huong Pham with The Recess Room in Fountain Valley.

The Recess Room is preparing hundreds of boxed meals, containing traditional Vietnamese food, to make the new year a little brighter.

"We're giving away 500 Lunar New Year boxes on Sunday to seniors and those in need due to COVID," said Viet Pham, owner of The Recess Room.

Pham says volunteers will drop off meals for some of the pre-selected seniors, and others will pick-up through a drive-thru - complete with dragon dancers!

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Lunar New Year is celebrated by an estimated 1.5 billion people across several Asian countries and their diasporas here in the United States.

"We decided to do drive-thru festivities, if you will," Viet Pham said.

It's a new way of celebrating. Normally, Tet is celebrated in Orange County's Little Saigon with a Tet Parade in Westminster with thousands of people.

But amid COVID-19 restrictions, the festivals and parades across Southern California are canceled or have gone virtual.

"Usually we get together but this year we want to give back for families that couldn't gather together," said Huong Pham.

The restaurant says it started preparing two weeks ago, and it will be working right up to the drive-thru at Noon on Sunday.

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Due to the pandemic, in-person Lunar New Year events in SoCal have been replaced with virtual celebrations. UCLA professor Dr. Min Zhou explained the significance of the holiday.

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