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Austin chef tracing African-American foodways and organizations helping homeless among Austin Food & Wine Alliance grantees

Matthew Odam
Austin 360
Chef Damien Brockway's forthcoming food truck, Distant Relatives, will highlight the food of the African diaspora.

A chef can now more quickly bring to life his vision of tracing the foodways of the African diaspora, and mothers and their children experiencing homelessness will have better access to tools to help them live healthier lives. Those are just two of the projects highlighting diversity and social justice that recently received the financial backing of one of the area’s biggest culinary non-profit organizations. 

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance recently announced the recipients of more than $30,000 in grants for local professionals working in myriad ways to promote culinary innovation. 

The Alliance distributed the money through seven grants, ranging from $2500 to $5000. The grantees include the organizations To Taste Culinary Nutrition, which provides nutrition education and culinary training for mothers and their children experiencing homelessness; Free Lunch, which serves several hundred home-cooked meals each week to people experiencing homelessness (read our profile of them here); and Wine For the People, a woman-owned business that has created an apprenticeship program for women in winemaking;

Grantees also include chef Damien Brockway, the former Counter 357 executive chef who will soon bring his food truck Distant Relatives, which is focused on serving food that represents the culinary traditions of the Africa Diaspora, to East Austin. Look for our interview with him in this space soon. 

Other makers receiving funds were Tamale Addiction, which intends to use the funds to launch a line of innovative cook-it-yourself tamalada kits; the Indian-inspired chocolate company Madhu Chocolates; and Li’l Nonna’s, a vegan pizzeria looking to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. 

This marks the ninth year of the grant program for the Alliance, which has distributed more than $350,000 to chefs, farmers, artisan producers, food-focused nonprofits, and educational groups. Grant money was raised despite the fact that AFWA, like most organizations, was unable to hold its biggest annual fundraisers. 

“Now more than ever, we knew we had to find a way to continue to support the innovation that builds our strong local food community. This year’s grant winners and their projects truly show the grit, determination, and talent we are fortunate to experience in Austin,” grant chair and AFWA board president Cathy Cochran-Lewis said.