Elgin coffee shop gives inventory to community, neighbors donate to support effort

Travis County

ELGIN, Texas (KXAN) — When Monica Nava first opened the doors to Chemn Café in Elgin two years ago, she never imagined her community would face winter storms like the ones she grew up with in Chicago.

“I got out of the cold weather about 20 years ago and moved to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas, I moved to Austin and then from Austin to Elgin,” Nava said.

On Saturday evening, the café closed. Then on Monday, she realized her community would face multiple days of cold weather and power outages.

“On Monday, I had a couple of people call. On Sunday, I had a couple of people come. Tuesday, I had a couple of people call and it just reiterates there are some people who are looking for a place where they can go to eat or get something to drink and it really bothers me because I know that I’m here and I’m OK but some people might not be,” she explained.

She posted on social media letting the community know she had decided to put together snack boxes for delivery using her café’s inventory.

“I know that I have a lot of items that are shelf-stable and we just need to get them out there,” she said. “We sell bowls of ramen soup, chips, granola bars, trail mix and protein bars.”

Nava also said they had some perishable food items she wanted to donate before they went bad such as pastries she had just ordered before the storms.

Inventory at Chemn Café in Elgin Nava is donating. (Courtesy Monica Nava)

She asked for those who could donate financially to do so and sponsor a box or two for someone in need. However, Nava said she was determined to help her community with or without the donations.

“We just want to be able to get some food to some people that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or heated up because we still have a few days of temperatures where some people just aren’t able to get out,” she said. “This is record-breaking weather and if you’re from here you just don’t know what to expect and it made me think some people are not prepared.”

Nava planned for each box to contain about $25 worth of food. On Tuesday, she was able to get to the café safely. She put together some boxes and safely hit the road with her daughter to start delivering. She dropped some boxes off at a local ministry sheltering people, the Elgin Police Department and Elgin Fire Department as well as bringing several donations to neighbors in need.

“I cannot just hold on to things that are not going to … and it’ll come back, it’ll come back. That’s how the universe works,” she said. “There’s no reason to sit on that. It makes me choked up just thinking about it because that’s what you should do. That’s what we should do.”

Nava said the pandemic has been tough on the business but that did not discourage her from giving back. She started a GoFundMe in hopes of offsetting some of the cost and help her replenish the inventory once she gets power back and is able to reopen.

At present, the community has donated more than $1,200 to Nava’s efforts.

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