Rosemarie Homick-Reese hopes to feed 250 people this time.
If last time was any indication, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Sunday will be the second time that Homick-Reese and his family partner along with Patrice Henry, owner of the Irie Jamaican Queen food truck, will serve free, no-questions-asked meals to members of the Auburn community. On the menu, a choice of fried chicken, pulled pork or a hot dog, with ziti, baked beans, a choice of water or soda, and a cookie or a brownie for dessert.
Homick-Reese told the Citizen that she and Henry began hosting giveaways to provide relief to Auburnians as inflation raised the price of groceries and other essentials.
“Times are really tough right now,” she said. “The price of food is absolutely ridiculous.”
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Henry parks the truck in front of Homick-Reese’s house on Van Anden Street to serve meals. It’s also in front of her home that for the past three years, Homick-Reese has stocked a table of 40 to 50 free items for people in need to take away as they please. Last week there were new clothes, including children’s clothes, but items ranged from food and soap to pillows and school supplies.
A longtime human resources professional who last worked at the Villa of Hope in Rochester and is now on private duty, Homick-Reese said she feels compelled to help people in any way she can. For nearly a decade, she has cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for Auburn families, eight to 10 each holiday, and collected donations from family and friends on social media to support the effort.
Through another one of her endeavors — cooking Sunday meals for families of cancer patients — Homick-Reese met Henry. Operator Irie Jamaican Queen suggested using their food truck to serve meals to the community. Excited by the idea, Homick-Reese began looking for donations on social media. Everything she and Henry had no money for, they bought themselves.
The first contest took place on Sunday, June 26. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled 11 a.m. start, there were people lined up on Van Anden Street. All 150 meals were gone by 12:30 p.m.
“It was amazing,” Homick-Reese said. “The food was great and the people were very, very grateful.”
Homick-Reese’s husband, Steve Reese, cooked the chicken and his daughter, Mara Homick, helped Henry in the food truck.
Some of the people who came for the meals asked if they could take some home for sick or disabled family members, and although Homick-Reese didn’t plan to accommodate them at first, she did. all the same. Other people gave organizers all the money they had, she said, even if it was just a dollar. She wants the gifts to be as private as possible.
“Just show up,” she said. “We don’t ask for anything.”
Homick-Reese hopes to continue serving the free meals on the last Sunday of the month until October, due to the cold weather. Starting next month, she and Henry would like to offer the community the ability to order their meals from the Irie Jamaican Queen menu of jerk chicken, beef patties and more. With enough support, she says, that shouldn’t be a problem either.
“A lot of these people can’t afford to go out or go to a food truck,” she said. “We’d love to open it up so they can order whatever they want.”