September 7, 2020

Essential Workers: Drink Pros Bring Hospitality to the Pandemic Front Lines

When Herminio Torres, a senior marketing manager for Ilegal Mezcal, heard that staff at the Bronx’s Lincoln Medical Center was surviving 20-hour shifts on peanut butter and jelly, he teamed up with his brother Alejandro, owner of Brooklyn’s El Gallo Taqueria, and delivered burritos to the medics. Thus was born HospUnited. In three months, Torres dropped off 25,000 meals (mostly donated by restaurants) to workers at seven New York medical facilities. Ilegal Mezcal helped fund and market the effort as well.

In June, with the ebb of New York City’s coronavirus curve, Torres morphed HospUnited into a new organization, Humans4, partnering with the non-profit Mixteca Organization to feed Brooklyn’s undocumented Latinx population. It’s work informed by his own background. “I’m a first-generation Mexican-American. My parents immigrated here in the late 1980s. We knew what struggle was like,” says Torres. “I have a job. I am not struggling, and I feel a moral obligation to do something.”