Tacos 4 Life, an Arkansas-grown taco restaurant with a mission to help end world hunger, has a lot to celebrate. Since its founding in 2014, the Tacos 4 Life team, its restaurants and dedicated guests have raised 15 million meals for hungry children in third world countries.
The brand began as an idea between newlyweds Austin and Ashton Samuelson while they were living in California in 2009. After learning that more than 18,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day, Austin and Ashton envisioned an opportunity to create a place where people can eat good while doing good. The Samuelson’s headed back to their home state of Arkansas to make this dream a reality, originally opening a pizza restaurant in 2011. They quickly realized that pizza wasn’t the right fit for what they were hoping to accomplish and transitioned into a specialty taco concept. The first Tacos 4 Life opened in Conway, Arkansas in June 2014—since then the brand has expanded to 17 locations across five states. On average, each Tacos 4 Life location raises 1,000 meals per day.
"Ashton and I have spent the last 11 years following our passion with our team and guests,” says Austin. “The meals raised have exceeded every expectation we had when we first began this journey. Our desire has always been to serve delicious, fresh food while contributing to the greater good. During these uncertain times, I believe people have relied on our mission more than usual as a way to have a purpose and do good.”
The way Tacos 4 Life works is simple – for every taco, quesadilla, nachos, salad or rice bowl sold, 24 cents is donated to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), Tacos 4 Life’s philanthropic partner. This cost is equivalent to the cost of one meal for a hungry child. Tacos 4 Life and FMSC host MobilePacks in every restaurant’s market each year to let guests, volunteers and team members be the ones to actually help pack the meals. Due to COVID-19, these events have been postponed. FMSC partners with over 70 countries around the world, and in the last six years Tacos 4 Life has had the privilege of being a part of donating meals to several of these countries. Tacos 4 Life team members across the brand have also had the opportunity to travel to help deliver the meals.
“I am overwhelmed that six years in, we have already raised 15 million meals,” says Ashton. “Our guests are the reason the brand has seen continued success over the years and entered new communities. Even though we have a lot to celebrate today, there is still so much more to accomplish. Our world needs all the tacos, love and support it can get right now.”
The tacos guests see on the menu are not your average menu items. Each taco has a unique story behind it that is near and dear to Austin, Ashton and their friends and family. The Fried Chicken taco is from Austin’s grandma’s cookbook, the Korean BBQ taco is a recipe from Austin and Ashton’s counselor and the Blackened Mahi-Mahi taco is inspired by their time spent eating fish tacos in California as newlyweds.
“Tacos 4 Life has been such a tremendous partner over the years, and we are celebrating this achievement with their team and all of their guests today,” adds Andy Carr, vice president of development and marketing for FMSC. “People like Austin and Ashton don’t come around often -- they are giving people who truly care about the mark they leave on this world.”