South Bronx restaurant to donate portion of October sales to Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts

Fort San Cristobal in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from July 2021.
Photo ET Rodriguez

On Sept. 18, Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico — destroying property, taking lives and causing a power-outage across the island that left millions without electricity.

Two weeks later, more than 100,000 homes and businesses are still left in the dark.

President Joe Biden visited the island on Monday to meet with “community leaders and local officials to save lives, restore power, distribute food and water, clean up and rebuild,” according to the White House. And while power, clean water and repair are the focus in times of natural disasters, there is also mental health ramifications to consider — as well as the deleterious effects on children who are missing out on their education while survival is the lone priority.

Chocobar Cortés. which serves chocolate grilled cheese and other traditional Puerto Rican and Dominican chocolate delicacies, opened in the South Bronx in December 2021. Photo courtesy Chocobar Cortés

As a result of the catastrophic trauma, the chocolate-focused and Puerto Rican-owned restaurant in the South Bronx, Chocobar Cortes, will be donating 2.5% of their in-house October sales to support relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The funds will be disbursed through the company’s personal fundraiser, Fundacion Cortes; specifically the Educa Cortés Program: The Art of Mental Wellness and Mental Health.

“Trauma and missed education can affect these kids for the rest of their lives if not taken care of — compile that with the hurricanes, the earthquakes and then the pandemic, there is an entire generation of kids on the island that have not received the education they deserve,” Carlos Cortes told the Bronx Times.

Cortes serves as executive director of the restaurant, located at 141 Alexander Ave., which has yet to celebrate its first anniversary. He is also the great grandson of the nearly century-old eponymous chocolate makers of Puerto Rico, who got their start in the Dominican Republic — another island hit hard by Fiona.

The Educa Cortes program was established in 2013, but shifted gears after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. It now works to mediate trauma with arts education and creative expression. Since its inception, the program has impacted more than 15,000 kids.

-Reuters contributed to this report

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