A San Francisco man came up with a plan to simultaneously help his friends and family get good food and local restaurants in Chinatown as small businesses continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aaron Lim, who now lives in Chinatown where he eats and shops all the time, told NextShark the neighborhood holds a lot of history for him.
“My mom grew up there, my dad and sister have served on the board of directors for Chinatown non-profits and my uncle Norman Fong, who has dedicated his life to serving Chinatown, was the executive director for the Chinatown Community Development Center until last month when he retired,” he said.
The idea of giving back to his community came to Lim a few weeks ago and he has since been driving food orders as far as the Peninsula, according to NBC Bay Area.
“As COVID got worse in San Francisco, I could see many of these restaurants were struggling,” he told NextShark. “So I figured I could help bring them business by organizing group food orders from my family/friends and then deliver them around the Bay Area.”
The orders Lim has been getting eventually grew so he started using centralized homes where people can pick up their orders.
“These orders quickly grew in size, where last weekend it was more than 70,” he said. “With the word spreading within my network that I was doing these food orders/deliveries, I wanted to make a bigger and more lasting impact.”
Restaurants and small businesses in Chinatown are reportedly struggling to keep their doors open. But establishments affected the most are those with older owners who have a hard time with the technology for app-based deliveries. The fees also take a big chunk from their profit.
Despite the difficulties Lim faces with the growing orders, he continues to push forward and his selfless deed has become an inspiration for the neighborhood, according to Roy Chan of the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC).
“And literally coming to a restaurant like Pork Chop House and ordering meals and delivering for friends and neighbors is an incredible grass roots effort,” Chan told NBC Bay Area. “It’s that spirit that we need in Chinatown right now.”
The non-profit’s focus is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in single room occupancy (SRO) dorm-like housing with communal kitchens and bathrooms that many immigrants live in. They have been delivering food to the affected areas so residents don’t have to cook in tight quarters.
The CCDC also source the food they deliver to the families from restaurants in Chinatown, which Lim describes as a “win-win for the community.”
To help them, Lim started a Facebook campaign, with all funds collected going to the CCDC’s efforts against the pandemic.
The campaign’s initial goal was only a few hundred dollars, but it has since reached $8,620 out of the $10,000 goal, as of this writing.
“I’ll continue trying to help restaurants with my orders each weekend, but my hope is that we can raise money for CCDC so they can continue to take care of the community during these especially tough times,” Lim said. “I feel like this could have been my family generations ago needing help, so it really hits close to home for me.”
Feature Image via Aaron Lim