History

The Bakersfield Burrito Project was founded on July 5, 2009, by Belinda Lopez.

After being discouraged with another group feeding the homeless and hungry, Belinda Lopez researched online and found the Burrito Project, a national group that allowed individual branches to establish independently within their communities. After contacting the organization through MySpace, Belinda established the Bakersfield Burrito Project by making 27 burritos in her kitchen, sitting in a city park and handing them to anyone that wanted one.

On that first day, Belinda encountered a mother and her children who were relaxing at the park. The mother had a¬†residence at the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter and chose to spend the day at the park. She had no food for herself and her kids, and Belinda’s burritos made the rest of the day at the park bearable. Belinda took this chance encounter as affirmation she had chosen to do the right thing in making burritos for the homeless and hungry, and every single weekend (missing only one weekend since 2009) she has diligently created and served burritos to the homeless and hungry of Bakersfield.

Originally, it was only Belinda and a few of her friends that started the work. With a camping stove and comales to heat tortillas, and a crock pot of beans that had been cooked overnight, the three ladies would sit in a city park and make burritos for anyone who wanted one.

As word spread, more and more volunteers arrived to help.

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The Bakersfield Burrito Project in the early days of 2012.
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City park distribution of burritos, with “Bessie,” the old camping stove in action warming tortillas, and the crock pot of beans for burrito filling.

Eventually, the Bakersfield Burrito Project grew too large to remain hidden in a city park distributing burritos to people in need. Health Permits and a Health Department regulated kitchen became necessary to remain in action. A corporation was formed, with a Board of Directors, Executive Officers, and all the required paperwork was filed with the state of California creating the Bakersfield Burrito Project as an official Limited Liability Corporation. Wesley United Methodist Church offered their community kitchen to make sure the Bakersfield Burrito Project remained operating. Shortly thereafter, the Kern County Health Department gave the Bakersfield Burrito Project licensing to operate.

Belinda Lopez Rickett gets the Health Department's blessing to operate the Bakersfield Burrito Project in March, 2013.
Belinda Lopez Rickett gets the Health Department’s blessing to operate the Bakersfield Burrito Project in March, 2013.
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The Bakersfield Californian’s newspaper article announcing the Bakersfield Burrito Project is back and operating within the community kitchen at Wesley United Methodist Church, September 2013.

The Bakersfield Burrito Project became a corporation on March 18, 2013. Also on November 24, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service, declared the Bakersfield Burrito Project a nonprofit with tax exception status. Corporate offices were opened in Downtown Bakersfield where the organization has operated ever since.

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High school students, college students, and many other volunteers made burritos in the community kitchen for the Bakersfield Burrito Project.

The Bakersfield Burrito Project has continued every single Sunday, creating fresh, hot burritos and augmenting them with snack foods, and bottled water. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving, the Bakersfield Burrito Project also creates breakfast burritos, with eggs, potatoes and salsa for distribution to help other agencies with their feeding programs of traditional meals. And on the Bakersfield Burrito Project’s Anniversary Event, in the second weekend of July, where volunteers, board members and executive officers gather to celebrate with the community the formation of the Bakersfield Burrito Project, perform community outreach, and roll “Bakersfield’s Biggest Burrito.” As of 2016, the Bakersfield Burrito Project has rolled a thirty-five and a half foot long burrito to commemorate feeding the hungry and homeless of Bakersfield.

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Only a small portion of “Bakersfield Biggest Burrito” of 2016, which measured thirty-five and half feet.

The Bakersfield Burrito Project continues to operate to this day, creating fresh ingredients from scratch with raw ingredients and distributing them to the homeless and hungry of the Bakersfield, California community.