Skip to Content

Free Lunch ATX Provides Nutritious Meals to Austin’s Homeless Community

The collective of Austin creatives have set out to reduce food insecurity by advocacy, volunteering and a quarterly magazine

For Free Lunch ATX, nuanced meal support is the main focus in providing food access to those who are experiencing homelessness in Austin.

Free Lunch ATX is a quarterly magazine and meal support program that provides meals seven days a week to the Camp Esperanza community in Southeast Austin. The organization began providing food one day a week in May 2020 but has since increased to every day.

In search of a creative outlet during the pandemic, Jazz Mills, Director of Operations at Free Lunch ATX, decided that creating a magazine would provide the income to support the organization, so that it could in turn support the community.

“The magazine was something that was really important to me and I think the general public needs truth when it comes to community services that are supporting good work,” says Mills.

Patrons contribute to the program by subscribing to the magazine for $10 a month. This fee helps assist Free Lunch ATX, uplifts the community and provides consistent meals for those experiencing homelessness. As more subscribers join, the more meals Free Lunch ATX can provide.

The magazine is used as a tool to show its subscribers how they have contributed to the Austin community by sharing a direct look into past progress and future goals.

MORE: Four Non-Profits Making Austin’s Art Scene More Inclusive

As a business with a paid staff, the focus is on consistency and being sure that staff is seen and validated in their roles.

“I didn’t want to take on building a company that I had to think about money all the time. The magazine ended up with this, ‘Oh my God, the stars are aligning’ moment. We have a photographer, musicians and an event producer on our staff,” says Mills. “We have access to a creative community that will give us a creative outlet, but will also help us make something interesting for the public.”

A large component of the program is supplying foods that aren’t just filling, but nutritious. However, offering good meal support to those experiencing homelessness can be difficult when trying to keep food safe to consume. When providing meals to a nomadic community, it can be a challenge to accommodate direct dietary restrictions.

“We focus on how we can provide proper and nuanced care so that all people that are receiving food feel seen and it’s really hard,” says Mills.

To achieve these goals, the organization works directly with impactful local groups and programs like The Other Ones Foundation, Our Shared Kitchen and ATX Free Fridge, which features multiple public refrigerators around Austin that are open to all and stocked daily.

Plus, Free Lunch often collaborates with numerous Austin chefs and farms to source high-quality ingredients while they work on completing their latest endeavor — a community garden of their own, built in partnership with Wild Heart Dirt.

For more information on Free Lunch ATX and how to become a Lunch Monitor, visit

MORE: Meet Alie Jackson, the Creative Force Behind Austin FC