Food Bank Helps Furloughed Grand Canyon Workers As Business Owners Protest Closure

He asked them, “Do we have the guts, us, collectively, to break this cycle?” We called up Choi to get him to expand a bit more on his challenge to the food world. “The question,” Choi tells The Salt, “is how can we continue the evolution of the culinary world, avant-garde cooking, and balance that with reaching the people we’re not reaching. We’re already cooking on a high level and pushing the envelope. We can still do these things and balance it with food that’s more accessible.” For Choi, that means chefs need to find ways to bring healthier food, with the creative flavors they’ve honed in their restaurants, to the people who will never be able to afford their restaurants. The Kogi BBQ truck near the campus of UCLA in 2009. Matt Sayles/AP The Kogi BBQ truck near the campus of UCLA in 2009. Matt Sayles/AP “My dream is that in 20 years we won’t have this same society where inner cities have no options for food except fast food,” he says. “I believe we can change it because of what happened with street food,” referring to the explosive growth of the food truck movement that he helped launch. “But we have to use the same model and framework of fast food, the same economic model, the same price point, to get them there.” And Choi argues that people who’ve been raised on junk food may not initially go for the flavors of haute cuisine. One way chefs can ease this transition, he says, is by incorporating ingredients that are familiar to the communities they are serving. For example, Choi says he uses ingredients like Spam, canned green beans and mac and cheese in the meals he prepares when he takes his food truck to disadvantaged L.A. neighborhoods, but then he adds his own twist.

“I think the public needs the opportunity to let people know how they’re feeling and I want to accommodate this best I can,” Uberuaga said. “I’m doing everything in my control to facilitate what decisions need to be made, but at this time, the answer is, ‘we can’t open until we get appropriations.'” Few services are available at the Grand Canyon and in the nearby town of Tusayan. The companies in town stake their business on access to the Grand Canyon. Becky Shearer, who manages a lodge in Tusayan, said she kept about 10 employees on during the first week of the shutdown but will be closing the 20-room lodge. The state highway into Tusayan is now a dead-end street with everyone but park employees and residents of Grand Canyon Village being turned away. Town Council member Craig Sanderson, an air tour pilot, called on Congress to act soon to open the canyon to sightseeing. “We’re not telling the Park Service how to open it. We’re saying ‘here’s the money, do it,'” he said. “By not opening the park, that tells me it’s political.” Clarinda Vail, whose family owns businesses and property in Tusayan, called the situation a crisis. She said the community is suffering economic loss resulting from the shutdown and the Obama administration’s refusal to accept offers of private and public money to keep the park open. Vail said she hopes efforts by Arizona’s U.S. senators, legislative leaders and Gov. Jan Brewer “will change some minds” within the Obama administration. Brewer and state legislative leaders have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to approve funding for the Arizona park and other national parks.

Food bank helps furloughed Grand Canyon workers

Meanwhile, an Arizona food bank delivered hundreds of boxes to help out concession and government workers who have been furloughed from their jobs or had their hours cut. “It’s definitely going to affect my paycheck,” said Louise Mendoza , a hotel room inspector who picked up a box of nonperishable food at the local fire station. “It’s really hard because we have only a few to do every day, and the hours are short.” The pastor of a church inside the park reached out to Phoenix-based St. Mary’s Food Bank for help after he realized he couldn’t meet the needs of people with donations he distributes out of his garage. The Rev. Patrick Dotson said many of the affected workers live paycheck to paycheck and are struggling to provide food for their families. “It’s a great turnout,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re really thankful people are coming, the word is spreading and people are getting the help they need.” About 4.5 million tourists from around the world visit the Grand Canyon each year, pouring an estimated $1.3 million a day into nearby communities. The National Park Service said 2,200 federal and private employees who work in the park are on furlough and that the park will remain closed until the government reopens. For a brief time Tuesday, about 50 people crowded around the entrance sign to Grand Canyon National Park while helicopters hovered overhead carrying passengers over the massive gorge. Business leaders and community members organized a “fed up with the feds” protest to highlight the economic crisis they said they’re facing. Few services are available at the Grand Canyon and in Tusayan. The companies in town stake their business on access to the Grand Canyon. Becky Shearer , who manages a lodge in Tusayan, said she kept about 10 employees on during the first week of the shutdown but will be closing the 20-room lodge. The state highway into Tusayan is now a dead-end street with everyone but park employees and residents of Grand Canyon Village being turned away.