East Austin restaurant owner gets help from food giant to help fight hunger
One of Austin's beloved restaurant owners is getting national attention for her efforts to fight hunger in her community. Tyson Foods decided to donate a year supply of chicken to Lozina Stephens-Bell to help her continue to serve the underserved.
On any given day of the week, you will catch Lozina "Lola" Stephens-Bell running her restaurant.
“I’ve always had a heart for this, from a little bitty kid,” said Stephens-Bell.
What she's really known for is her benevolence, and willingness to help. Her back door stays open for anyone who is in need of a soul-filled meal. Lola was once struggling herself. She says once she opened her business she knew she has another calling, to help the homeless and underserved.
“God told me to do it in a dream that I had. I asked God ‘how do you expect me to do that when I don't have anything?’” said Stephens-Bell.
Food giant Tyson wants to step in to help. They launched a $50 million campaign to end hunger. They plan to recognize people who are on the frontlines, people like Lola.
“They called me up one day said they were Tyson chicken, and I was like what?” said Stephens-Bell.
She could not believe her ears. The company says they will provide her with a week's supply of chicken every week for the next year. Lola says her faith and prayers are what got her to this point.
“There's no other way somebody that big can come through and find little old black me,” said Stephens-Bell.
Tyson released a statement saying: We want to tell the stories of people like Lola, people doing extraordinary things where they live and work. Lola herself has faced hunger and homelessness in the past and she knows the struggle of feeding a family firsthand,” said Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods.
Lola shuts down her business early on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to drive her “cool” bus to poor neighborhoods. Lola, who came from a poor background, says the decision to help other only felt right
“I started with nothing, and guess what, today eleven years later I still have nothing because I give it all away,” said Stephens-Bell.
Lola says she won't worry about what she needs. She believes her reward is seeing the smiling faces of the people she helps daily.
“I know that if I do for others, that God is going to provide everything that I need,” said Stephens-Bell.
Lola came to Austin from Lake Charles, Louisiana. She was the first person the company selected in their campaign.