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Get a taste of the Mustard Seed Cafe

Located+at+201+E+Sunset+Rd%2C+Mustard+Seed+Cafe+helps+the+El+Paso+community+by+providing+free+meals.
Gianluca Cuevas
Located at 201 E Sunset Rd, Mustard Seed Cafe helps the El Paso community by providing free meals.

Grown and gathered straight from the garden, a variety of leafy greens and vibrant produce become a tasty meal for anyone in need at the Mustard Seed Cafe. The cafe located at 201 E Sunset Rd. has provided freshly made meals at little to no cost to the El Paso community since 2013 and continues to show love for the residents through its warm hospitality.  

Founders Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick and Shelley Speicher had the idea to create a volunteer and donation-based pay-what-you-can cafe, originally located in downtown El Paso. They never expected what it would become five years later.  

The nonprofit found its home with the Westside Community Church in 2018 with hopes to share their Christianity by helping those experiencing food insecurity.  

Carmen Estrada, executive director of the Mustard Seed Cafe, says the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the change from pay-what-you-can to free meals to provide for everyone in the community.  

“We worked with frontliners, and first responders and we collaborated to provide the meals and it was beautiful, it was community,” Estrada said. “One of the things we learned is that the stereotype that the residents of the west side don’t have a need is only a stereotype.”  

Through these experiences, Estrada learned more about the needs of all El Pasoans and decided to transition to a zero-cost cafe.  

“We said, okay we can’t go back to our old model of operations because obviously that wasn’t what the community needed,” Estrada said. “So, we decided to go 100 percent for free and it was an act of faith, but this is what we’ve been doing for almost five years.”  

For Estrada, working with the Mustard Seed is more than just a volunteer opportunity.  

“I grew up in Colombia with a family that loved to serve, and I think that helping and serving brings me good memories of my family,” Estrada said. “When I came here 32 years ago, the El Paso community embraced me, and I feel really privileged that I’m able to do what I’m doing.” 

Mustard Seed Cafe also teaches the community how to eat healthier through sustainable practices. Estrada says the garden managed by volunteer Bill Hooten plays a big role in achieving this goal.  

“We’re trying to break the stereotype that eating healthy has to be expensive,” Estrada said. “With the garden, Bill teaches the community that growing produce in your own backyard or even in your apartment is doable.”  

The cafe’s success is due to the help of their volunteers and family it created. Kathy Peterson, a longtime volunteer, says she continues to work with the nonprofit because of the connections she’s made. 

“I was volunteering as well as working full time and I thought I don’t want to be at work, I want to be here,” Peterson said. “The volunteers and the community, especially the regulars who come in have become family.” 

 Mustard Seed Cafe continues to serve as many people as possible because Peterson believes these organizations are essential.  

“Organizations like this are absolutely necessary for this community, so just being here and helping it to grow in different directions makes a difference,” Peterson said.  

The Mustard Seed Cafe is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those interested in volunteering can contact them online at https://mustardseedcafe.org/ 

Alyda Muela is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; @alyrose.photos on Instagram.

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About the Contributors
Alyda Muela
Alyda Muela, Contributor/Writer
Alyda Muela is a sophomore at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She is a multimedia journalism major with a minor in general business. After graduation she hopes to travel the world to continue to pursue a career in journalism.
Gianluca Cuevas
Gianluca Cuevas, Photographer
Gianluca Cuevas is a staff photographer for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. He plans to work in the automotive industry designing cars/mechanic in the F1. He also has his small photography business 365elements which he plans to continue to grow.
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