Boyle Heights restaurants give free meal vouchers to increase Census response rate

Boyle Heights area restaurants have partnered up with a local nonprofit to increase the Census response rate in the community by distributing free meal vouchers.
BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In an effort to get more people to fill out the 2020 Census, various restaurants in and around Boyle Heights are handing out free meal vouchers for every census that's filled out.

"Thought this was perfect in the sense that you get free food," said Deysi Serrano, who owns local restaurant Milpa Grill. "And at the same time, there's, you know, people want to help small businesses."

Local restaurants partnered with Alma Family Services, a nonprofit organization that focuses on mental health services and is sponsoring the $10 meal vouchers.

"Usually, we would have an event at the center. We'd go out to a local communities place and we host food," said Denise Villamil, a program director with Alma Family Services. "We thought we could do vouchers and that way they can, while complying with covid-19 safer at home recommendations, they could do that at their own time."

53% of Boyle Heights residents had sent in responses for the census by the end of August, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Los Angeles County had a 62% completion rate and California overall had a 67% completion rate.

"The numbers are super low, meaning that Boyle Heights is not going to get that much money or the money that we deserve to the community because we're not being counted," said Serrano.
"I mean, historically, our community's Spanish speaking immigrant communities are very uncomfortable in giving personal information," said Villamil.

There are 200 vouchers available, and all people need to do to receive one is show proof of completion at any of the participating restaurants or the restaurant can help people fill it out on site.

"It's a closed round when you do the census, support the small business and the fact that Alma Services, is just one of the first nonprofits that is willing to work with the businesses like that. It's just beautiful," said Serrano.

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Here's a list of participating businesses:

Capuyo Café
1850 1st St. Los Angeles, CA 90033

Café Rebelde
3025 Wabash Ave Los Angeles, CA 90063

East Los Tacos
316 N. Ford Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022

La Catrina
3025 Wabash Ave Los Angeles CA 90063

Milpa Grille
2633 Cesar Chavez Ave Los Angeles CA 90033

Super Pollos
3353 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90023

Un Solo Sol
1818 1st St Los Angeles CA 90033
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