New York Angel Feeds the Needy Out of His Own Pocket

Bus driver Jorge Munoz spends half his salary on food for the hungry.

Aug. 7, 2009— -- Jorge Munoz knows sharing. In his tiny kitchen in Queens, N.Y., Munoz cooks more than 100 meals a day. And every day, he gives them all away for free to people in need.

"Yesterday, they were 130," he said. "So, we gonna try to make out today between 130 and 140. Depends. Because we working it out on the time. So we try to make 120, 130."

His stove has broken down twice from overuse, and it doesn't have a handle. He also uses his sister's stove upstairs. You can imagine their gas bill.

Munoz is not a missionary or a minister. He's a school bus driver who saw a need, and stepped in to meet it.

Five years ago, he saw food being thrown out and asked if he could give it away instead.

"I was sitting in a school bus waiting for the kids coming on the bus, and I noticed two guys was dumping, like, what I believe was good food," he said. "Talked to them and said if I can have that food and then give it somebody else, because it was good food."

Then he started to cook. He figured he's given away more than 70,000 meals, using half of his $650 weekly salary on supplies.

Every night at 9:30, he's at a subway station in Queens feeding hungry people.

"Some of them told me, they came up to me and says to me, 'Listen, thanks so much, because before I was looking in the garbage. ... So thanks to you I got something to eat today,'" he said.

Munoz has been there every night for five years -- except one -- when his truck was stuck in a snowstorm. He's seen demand rise from only eight people in line to, now, 150 on a daily basis.

Recession Takes Its Toll

For a time, Munoz was out of work himself.

"I had no job for one month-and-a-half, and by the end of that time I look back and I got enough food all of those days," he said. "Out of a job, and I pay all my bills on time. How? God knows."

Munoz has witnessed the toll the recession has taken.

"A year ago, there were, like, between 65 and 90 guys shows up to eat, and then suddenly in two months it jumps to 130, 140," he said.

"Instead of 40 pounds, we have to cook 60 pounds of chicken," he said. "You have to cook 15 to 20 pounds of rice."

In response, Munoz formed his own nonprofit organization, An Angel in Queens. Donations are helping enormously.

"The best way we get paid back is that we see in these guys smiles," he said. "They get in line, and I hand them their meal and an iced tea or a hot chocolate. The best is when they smile because it shows they [are] happy. They got something to eat tonight. That's the best way to get paid."