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Go Legit, Don't Quit! Fundraiser for Nina's Food & Other Street Vendors this Sunday

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Nina's Food at the Vendy Awards (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)


Nina's Food at the Vendy Awards (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
Last month at the Vendy Awards, the judges selected Nina Garcia, the Breed Street vendor of Nina's Food in East L.A. as the best in show among her esteemed peers. But while the playing field was equal among vendors, from trucks to stands, back in her every day operations, Garcia has found she's having a tough time because her table-style operation means she's not up to code, and that means the Health Department is keeping her from earning her keep.

Vendy judge, Good Food host, and Angeli Caffe owner Evan Kleiman's first encounter with Garcia and her delicious street eats was at the Awards, and she has quickly thrown her support to the struggling vendor and is asking the community of food lovers to pitch in, too. Unfortunately, it's hard for vendors like Garcia to go legit, despite how much they may want to.

Vendors must operate from a licensed cart or truck, but to do so can be costly and a process that is challenging to navigate. "So often money is the issue," Kleiman explains. "To get enough of it to put a down payment on a licensed vehicle and know you're going to be able to make the payments." This is why Kleiman hopes the public can step in and help Garcia, and, in turn, other vendors, get to where they need to be within the law to keep selling the food we laud them for.

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Kleiman is hosting a benefit this Sunday at Angeli, where Garcia's food will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and give people an opportunity to come by, eat, and make a donation. The funds will go towards getting Nina into a truck, and license, and, says Kleiman, "to take the excess we raise and create a revolving micro-finance fund to help resolve vendor issues that just need a little more money to break through a barrier." To aid in the process, Erin Glenn Chief Executive Officer, Asociación de Loncheros L.A. Familia Unida de California (a vendors' advocacy group), will hold the monies raised, and help guide Garcia through the necessary steps.

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Nina's Food [under a green awning, hence the hue!] at the Vendy Awards (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
Garcia's food is reason enough to sit up and pay attention: "The first bite of her Pambazo was like being hit in the face with a big punch of flavor followed by an incredibly comforting and satisfying textural surprise," describes Kleiman on the Good Food Blog. "The torta, soaked in enchillada sauce then griddled became a sort of savory, spicy bread pudding filled with potato, cheese and chorizo." Add to that the puddle of cheese that becomes the filling of a quesadilla, and Garcia's spicy sauces, and you may have to reach for a napkin right now to wipe up that drool. You can taste some of Garcia's food Sunday at Angeli, and help be a part of a movement to support our local street vendors in a positive way. Follow Nina's Food on Twitter. If you can't stop by on Sunday, the Good Food Blog has information on where to send a donation.

Sunday's Fundraiser Menu
Pambazo $5 (A roll soaked in Guajillo Chile Sauce filled with Potato and Chorizo and Griddled)

Quesadillas - griddled or fried - cheese only $3.50

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Quesadillas or gorditas $6.50
-Guisados (fillings)
Huitlacoche - Corn Fungus
Flor de Calabaza - Zucchini Flowers
Hongos - Mushrooms
Chicharron prensad
Tinga - Spicy Chipotle Beef

Bowl of pozole w/condiments $5

Nina’s salsa seca (to-go) $5 (Combo of sesame seeds, peanuts, chile de arbol)

There will also be a selection of beverages:
-Agua de Limon
-Agua de Sandia
-Soft Drinks/Ice Tea
-Selection of Beers