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Making burritos, and a difference, for the unsheltered of Reno

The Reno Burrito Project is an organization that provides many services for the unsheltered, most notably, making and delivering burritos.

Every Sunday afternoon, volunteers with the Reno Burrito Project walk around downtown Reno with their rolling coolers full of burritos that have been handmade and wrapped in foil. Founder Blaize Abuntori wants people to realize that each unhoused person is a human being. Besides delivering food and other essentials, Abuntori prioritizes connecting with each recipient to address their individual needs.

“Originally, I’m from Ghana, West Africa, and so, the first time I came to Reno, I realized a lot of homeless people around,” Abuntori recalled, “and the first question that I asked myself was, ‘Where is their family? Where is their friends?’ ”

Abuntori then took action. He officially launched the Reno Burrito Project about a year ago. Early on, Abuntori worked on the project for 40 hours a week while maintaining a busy work schedule. With the support of people like his landlord, the organization grew.

“He asked me how much I was paying for it. I was still a teaching assistant, and I was really looking at my budget,” Abuntori said, “and he said ‘You know what, this week onwards, I’m going to pay for every single week.’ ”

Abuntori is holding a cell phone that displays a list of numbers in the 200s and 300s.
Kathleen Leslie
KUNR Youth Media
Blaize Abuntori, founder of the Reno Burrito Project, shows his method of keeping track of how many burritos are made and delivered each Sunday.

The group’s next goals are to achieve its nonprofit status and get a new location. The program is currently run out of Abuntori’s house, but even without having a dedicated building, the energy is just as vibrant.

Grace Hsin and her daughter joined the other volunteers making burritos in the living room. Community service is an important value for Hsin to share with her daughter.

“I think, the biggest thing is you feel like you’re so small, your efforts so little, but you can bring people some hope and some positive for their life,” Hsin said.

Grace Hsin is wearing gloves and using a red spoon to scoop ground beef and beans out of a tall, large silver pot.
Kathleen Leslie
KUNR Youth Media
Grace Hsin makes a burrito with the Reno Burrito Project on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021.

View additional photos of the Reno Burrito Project’s distribution on Nov. 14 by scrolling through the image slideshow at the top of this story. Over 400 burritos were made and delivered on this day.

Learn more about the Reno Burrito Project here.

Kathleen Leslie is a senior at the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology. KUNR’s Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

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