SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Despite the many challenges he has faced himself during the pandemic, Avonte Hartsfield is determined to make sure others don't go hungry.
With 10 years in food industry jobs under his belt, Hartsfield knows how to cook up a storm. But eventually, it was time for a change.
"I just decided that I wanted to do my own thing finally and so I started very small at the farmers markets," says Hartsfield.
Just as business started to sizzle enough to think about opening a restaurant, the pandemic hit and farmers markets were shut down. To roll with the punches, last fall, Hartsfield opened the Rollin Roots Food Truck.
"I took the orders, I made the food, bought the food in the morning, I prepped the food in the morning, I did every single thing," Hartsfield said.
But still, pandemic restrictions had him on the verge of going under, until an Instagram post helped revive business. Through it all, Hartsfield has donated meals to those in need, and not just any meals. His specialty is vegan cooking born after he tasted vegan food already out there.
"It wasn't that good and didn't have that much flavor to it or had too much salt," he says, "so I decided I needed to step into this and make it my own."
Hartsfield says it's allergy-friendly and healthy, but don't call it health food because he says you can get fries too. He says he donates 20 to 50 meals a day that are in warmers for the taking, and that's not all.
"Every single day there's always an option that you can come and just pay whatever you can," Hartsfield says.
He also plans to start a pay-it-forward program so customers can help too. He says it's important for him to give back because he remembers what it's like not to have enough food.
"I grew up knowing what it was like to feel hunger not being able to know where your next meal is coming from," Hartsfield says, "Now I'm on hyper-drive mode trying to figure out how I can do more."
He says an act of kindness can go a long way.
"You can love someone from a distance, you can smile, you can go that extra mile to make someone's day brighter and bring the community a little bit closer," said Hartsfield.
You can find the Rollin Roots food truck at 8040 Armour Street in Kearny Mesa. It's open every day from noon to 7 p.m. and Hartsfield expects to open a second location at the Grossmont Center Food Court by March 1st.
To get more information and to find out how to help, visit https://www.rollinrootssd.com/home.