This month, Centro San Antonio partnered with Ana Fernandez, owner of Chamoy City Limits, to provide free paletas, facemasks and hand sanitizer to passersby at multiple downtown locations via a mobile food truck. The partnership, which began July 3 and has continued weekly every Friday since, seeks to raise public awareness about protections against Covid-19 in a novel and eye-catching way.
“It’s kind of a more fun way to get your protective equipment, because everybody can use a mask, and most people could use a new mask,” said Fernandez, who owns and operates the Chamoy City Limits brick-and-mortar location on West Hildebrand Avenue in addition to the food truck.
The truck displays artwork and charts communicating health information about Covid-19, and visits locations around the downtown Friday afternoons typically stopping outside the Emily Morgan DoubleTree hotel and the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk. From the truck, paletas and protective equipment are distributed using a six-foot pole with a small conical basket on the end in order to maintain physical distancing.
Fernandez seeks to reach San Antonio locals and tourists alike. Finding locals near the bus stops and tourists near the Alamo and River Walk areas, she utilizes the truck’s ice cream music to catch the attention of anyone nearby.
“People will wave us down and we’ll pull over, or we’ll see people and stop to give them masks if we see them without masks,” Fernandez said.
Centro San Antonio, an organization dedicated to downtown enhancement and promotion, first reached out to Chamoy City Limits last month in an effort to promote public health while supporting local businesses and artists.
“We’d always wanted to experiment with mobile experiences… and we’re big fans of (Fernandez), so we reached out to her with this crazy idea,” said Matt Sirgo, director of storytelling at Centro San Antonio. “It’s just one small way to connect with people and get the message across to stay safe, follow the recommended CDC guidelines, and we’ll get through this together.”
Local artist Isabel Ann Castro created all the informational art decorating the truck. Some pieces communicate a more educational approach, such as info on how to monitor symptoms of Covid-19. Others feature artwork accompanied by fun, San Antonio-specific phrases, such as “Stay Home And Resta, Or There Will Be No Fiesta.” Castro’s project was originally intended to be separate, but was combined with Chamoy City Limits’ truck after Centro realized how the goals of both initiatives aligned.
“Everything we do, we wanted to support local businesses and entrepreneurs, and also recognize that unfortunately during times like these, the first things to get cut are the artists and arts programs,” Sirgo said.
The recent combined partnership with Fernandez and Castro comes in the midst of Centro’s rollout of their “Art Everywhere” initiative, which plans to add 10 murals to Houston Street this year. In mid-June, local artist Anthony Dean-Harris completed his mural, “Instructions For Use For Adapting To Our State of Constant Change” at the Maverick Building facing South Presa Street as part of the program.
Fernandez has two more distributions scheduled this month for this Friday and next Friday, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., with potential plans to continue in August. “Our hope is to make people feel good, and walk away with a big smile,” Fernandez said. “It’s cool when you’re walking down the street and someone hands you free ice cream.”
Benjamin Gonzalez is a reporting intern at the Heron. He graduated from Trinity University with a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @BennyCruzG on Twitter.