Dalton restaurant owner paying it forward with free meals - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalton restaurant owner paying it forward with free meals

Posted: Updated:
DALTON, WHITFIELD COUNTY - A Dalton chef is spreading the message that one person can make a difference. He wanted to help others in his community so he started a pay it forward initiative at his restaurant, giving away free meals.

Chef Jesus Fraire says it simply comes down to wanting to make his community a better place. A few weeks ago he posted online he was starting a program to feed those in need and he got a huge response.

"Some people are going through tough times. We figured we'd fill in the gap and help them out," says Jesus Fraire.

Fraire has been a chef for four years.

"Ever since I started my restaurant I figured if I was going to be involved in the food industry, might as well make it a ministry," says Fraire.

He owns 'Dat'z A Wrap' inside Walnut Square Mall in Dalton.

"I see it all the time. When people are hurting, that's not something you can fake. They come up to us and they genuinely are appreciative of getting a hot meal."

Encouraged by friends, Fraire started taking donations. 

"They buy their meal and they donate five dollars as a pay it forward so someone else can get a hot meal that typically wouldn't be able to," says Fraire.

Word spread quickly and Fraire started giving away meals April 17th. More than 100 people showed up the first day.

"So that's when I knew, 'Woah. This is actually pretty cool.'"

Since then, he's been passing out vouchers to local churches, too.

"That way they don't have to ask for a free meal. Once we see the paper, we automatically know this person is here for our pay it forward program," says Fraire.

When people donate money, they have the option of writing encouraging messages to those who receive the gift. Some read: "You matter" and "You are loved."

"A lot of the messages are really touching. I've gotten to read a couple of them."

Fraire hopes he can inspire others to make a difference.

"We decided, me and my guys decided, we were going to serve them as good if not better than our regular customers because they need it. They need to know that they matter," says Fraire.

So far the restaurant has received more than 400 donations. That is more than $2,000.

Fraire says he has been getting calls from people across the country wanting to know how they can help. He says the best thing to do is try and start your own movement in your community.
Powered by Frankly