I Have an Idea for a Food Program - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-17-2004, 01:12 AM
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I thought of this a few weeks ago and I'm not aware of any programs that currently do this, so if anyone knows of one, tell me!



I've never given money to a homeless person because I fear it won't go towards food. I've always held the belief that it's better to give food instead, however, like most of you, I don't often walk around the city with apples in my pocket (there is one situation where I gave a family a bag of cashews I happened to have, but that's the only one I can think of.)



So this idea formed in my head. Wouldn't it be nice if there were nonprofit soup kitchens, run by volunteers, that charged for their food. The prices being just enough to cover the cost of the food thus the kitchens run in the black and don't lose money from operation.



Now, here's the unique part: ordinary people, like you and I, can purchase $1 and $0.50 tokens at different stores all over the city. When we pass busking homeless along the streets we could give them the tokens which can only be exchanged for food at one of these kitchens. If people who want to eat at the kitchen don't have any tokens, they can of course pay in currency too.



Not that I have the means to set something like this up, but would something like this work? I think it would be really cool to walk around with a few of these tokens in my pocket knowing that I could give them to needy people on the street and know that they can only get food from it!



ETA: Naturally, anyone here can run with this idea if they have the chance!
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#2 Old 07-17-2004, 01:59 AM
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Thats a cute idea. This is a dumb title, but I'd call it "tokens of love" or something like that.
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#3 Old 07-17-2004, 02:54 AM
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Wow, I've thought of this, too, but I thought of tokens for regular food stores, which might not want to attract the homeless. But the soup kitchen idea solves this problem.
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#4 Old 07-17-2004, 07:06 AM
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good idea. i don't know of anything quite like that, i just know of one group in toronto that drives around with blankets and sandwiches and hands them out. think it's a church group though.



you should pass the idea on to existing soup kitchens

I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
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#5 Old 07-17-2004, 07:19 AM
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LF - there is a group in Edmonton that has a "3 mites" store, where you pay what you can for what's in it. 3 mites taken from the bible where the poor widow gave Jesus 3 pennies and he declared that she gave the most b/c she gave her all.



Mikie, I think it's a good idea. Anything that gives people a way to eat is good in my books.
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#6 Old 07-17-2004, 08:12 AM
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Mikie i think it's an awesome idea !

i don't know how you'd make it work tough
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#7 Old 07-17-2004, 08:50 AM
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It's not much difference then handing out bus tickets to the homeless (something that I used to do when I worked downtown). Bus tickets can only be used on the bus. Food tickets to a shelter can only be used at shelters.
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#8 Old 07-17-2004, 09:09 AM
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I used to give out gift certificates to fast food restaurants, but found out they get sold pretty easily. So I guess that's the problem with food stamps and such. If I wanted to get my groceries at a discount, I know exactly where to go in town in order to buy food stamps for 50 cents to the dollar. Working with the homeless in my area, I know what options are available to them (and they do too, 90% of the time), and what food kitchens are open on what days, and what churches serve meals or offer showers at what time, and what shelters have what requirements. The only thing I don't know is any charities that will pay for alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. Cigarettes are easy to bum off someone else, but the other two have to be bought or stolen, and the easiest way to get money is to sell your food stamps, tokens, etc.
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#9 Old 07-17-2004, 09:41 AM
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Too true. I though of that when I read mikie's post, but there are people who do use their stamps. I worked at a grocery store in university and there were people who used their stamps all the time. So, there are always people who abuse,but there are always people who follow the instructions.



Complete ramble:



When people ask me for money (and aren't sober) I ask them if they are new in town. If they are, I tell them how to get to the nearest shelter that will take high/drunk people. I used to carry a card with a bus pass and an address, so that they could give it to the bus driver. If I had time, I would wait w/ them to help them on the bus and explain to the driver where they needed to go.



I miss working downtown, as I don't have that daily interaction. It's a long flipping drive to get there now.



I remember once a local homeless man asked for a bus ticket so he could go to an interview. I would share my breakfast with him at my bus stop at least once a week. I gave him the ticket and wished him luck. I saw him once again - in a suit, on the bus, a few months later. The Salvation Army helped land him a job, helped him get an apartment, even gave him the suit. I was never as proud of a person as I was of him that day.
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#10 Old 07-17-2004, 10:34 AM
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those tokens would be traded for drugs and what not too.



just a matter of time. just like people using the food "card" (what was known as stamps) for trade.
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#11 Old 07-17-2004, 11:27 AM
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i already said it on lj, but it's still a groovy idea i'd love to do a similar project, but i'm fortunate enough to live in an area where such service isn't needed. i'm sure it's needed elsewhere in the county, though, and i could bring it up at the next youth council meeting. woohoo
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#12 Old 07-17-2004, 12:12 PM
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I realize that they could be traded for money which can be traded for other things, however, unless there's a loophole I can't think of, it's one step better than foodstamps, actually, make that two steps (actually, make that several, I feel like rambling.)



1) I would imagine that all the tokens, even if they are traded with someone else for whatever might be considered bad, will in the end probably make their way to a soup kitchen (which is good.)



2) Unlike foodstamps which can be used for any food at a grocery store these could only be used for whatever healthful meals that would be made that day at the soup kitchens. No potato chips or soda. (And I've definitely heard stories about rural Louisiana where people could walk into the local store and buy anything with their EBT card including cigarettes and beer, not that rural Louisiana has soup kitchens where this applies.)



3) Although I can't prove this one, I would imagine there'd be less temptation to use these tokens for drugs than if there were a $5 bill sitting in a beggar's cup. Of course, any addicted person will find a way to do get what they need.



4) Unlike foodstamps, it wouldn't come from taxpayer money, it would come straight from those who want to fund such a program.



Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyFaile View Post

you should pass the idea on to existing soup kitchens

After I typed that and was laying in bed last night I thought of that!



I think I'm going to look some local ones up and contact them.
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#13 Old 07-17-2004, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Parker View Post

those tokens would be traded for drugs and what not too.



just a matter of time. just like people using the food "card" (what was known as stamps) for trade.



As shocking as this may sound, not everyone who lives on the streets are drug addicts. A poll last year of homeless people living in major Canadian cities showed only 25% were there due to addictions (gambling, drugs, alcohol, etc). 25% were due to mental illness and 50% was due to unemployment, underemployment, unaffordable housing. I support a local group that assists people who cannot afford rent and they give food baskets to people living in their vehicles. Furthermore, there are ~500 CHILDREN homeless in my city alone - they certainly aren't there due to drugs. They are their with their parents who can't afford rent.
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#14 Old 07-17-2004, 12:31 PM
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Yeah, I heard that too, krista.



Here's a little story:



I was 12, and there was a 7-11 (conveinence store) behind my house. I would always go there to get candy, pizza, etc. etc. There was this homeless man named chuck. I talked to him occasionally, and I would give him a dollar here and there. Well, there was also a KFC by my house, so I thought, 'Hey, I think he would like a hot meal'. So I bought him some coleslaw, chicken, and biscuits. I took them to him, and he threw the food at me. He said he only wanted money. The next day he was arrested for breaking into someones car.



Makes me mad when people only want drugs..
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#15 Old 07-17-2004, 12:37 PM
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Yes, but that's what drugs does to you when you are addicted. I always ask what brought that person to needing to rely on drugs in the first place? In doing that, I don't get angry anymore and only want to help.
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#16 Old 07-17-2004, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristadb View Post

Yes, but that's what drugs does to you when you are addicted. I always ask what brought that person to needing to rely on drugs in the first place? In doing that, I don't get angry anymore and only want to help.

Good point, Krista.



This can also be applied to pretty much any social problem which can widen our circle of compassion.



(<--read's Dalai Lama literature. )
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#17 Old 07-17-2004, 12:44 PM
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Furthermore, so what if a person is on drugs? Don't they deserve an occasion hot meal, too?



<----reads Jesus' teachings. The worst amongst us are the ones that need the most love.
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#18 Old 07-17-2004, 12:47 PM
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Oh, and one more reason why tokens would be better than money: I was in the "city" part of the city a couple weeks ago and these two gutter punks were begging for food on my way by. About 4 hours later when I passed them they were eating hamburgers and frenchfries from a fastfood restaurant. Though, of course, it's their choice to eat that, if they were given tokens, they would use them to eat at a soup kitchen for much healthier meals.
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#19 Old 07-17-2004, 12:49 PM
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mikie - btw, as a side note for a project for yourself.



Collect easy to eat foods on sale to give to local groups. They can use those things (ie ready to eat pudding) to people living in their vehicles, who don't have the ability to heat their food.
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#20 Old 07-17-2004, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikie View Post

I realize that they could be traded for money which can be traded for other things, however, unless there's a loophole I can't think of, it's one step better than foodstamps, actually, make that two steps (actually, make that several, I feel like rambling.)



1) I would imagine that all the tokens, even if they are traded with someone else for whatever might be considered bad, will in the end probably make their way to a soup kitchen (which is good.)



2) Unlike foodstamps which can be used for any food at a grocery store these could only be used for whatever healthful meals that would be made that day at the soup kitchens. No potato chips or soda. (And I've definitely heard stories about rural Louisiana where people could walk into the local store and buy anything with their EBT card including cigarettes and beer, not that rural Louisiana has soup kitchens where this applies.)



3) Although I can't prove this one, I would imagine there'd be less temptation to use these tokens for drugs than if there were a $5 bill sitting in a beggar's cup. Of course, any addicted person will find a way to do get what they need.



4) Unlike foodstamps, it wouldn't come from taxpayer money, it would come straight from those who want to fund such a program.





After I typed that and was laying in bed last night I thought of that!



I think I'm going to look some local ones up and contact them.



Those are good points Mikie. It sounds like a great idea. Very awesome project to undertake!
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#21 Old 07-17-2004, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kristadb View Post

Furthermore, so what if a person is on drugs? Don't they deserve an occasion hot meal, too?



<----reads Jesus' teachings. The worst amongst us are the ones that need the most love.



I tried giving him one, and he threw it at me.
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#22 Old 07-17-2004, 01:07 PM
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lol. maybe he was a vegetarian.
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#23 Old 07-17-2004, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerbaboon View Post

I tried giving him one, and he threw it at me.



I wasn't meaning you. I was referring to people who don't try.
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#24 Old 07-17-2004, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikie View Post

Oh, and one more reason why tokens would be better than money: I was in the "city" part of the city a couple weeks ago and these two gutter punks were begging for food on my way by. About 4 hours later when I passed them they were eating hamburgers and frenchfries from a fastfood restaurant. Though, of course, it's their choice to eat that, if they were given tokens, they would use them to eat at a soup kitchen for much healthier meals.

Ehh, While I think it is a wonderful and creative idea, Mikie, I'm not sure if 'would' is the correct word to use. There are definately a lot of people who would no doubt take advantage of the program and use it for thier betterment, but at the same time, those that are homeless many times have more imprtant things to worry about than nutrition. Factor in that many without computers or the right resources will not know the benefits of a vegetarian diet and that many people (homeless and not homeless) just think meat 'tastes better', and you'll still wind up with people selling the tokens to go to McDs for a 29 cent hamburger the last wednesday of the month.



Not to dampen your spirits even more, but the part about the food shelter charging enough to keep the shelter in the black...There are so many things to factor in. First of all, are you only going to have one shelter in an entire city of 4 million +? If not, then there would have to be 2 or more locations, making that 2+ rents to pay, two+ utility bills, shipping costs to bring the food to the shelter, and then the food itself. However, maybe some animal rights company could sponsor the shelter, such as PeTA, and that could make running costs much lower?



Again, brilliant idea. If there was some way to prove it could be profitable, it should surely be brought to the attention of someone who could fund it and make it work.
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#25 Old 07-17-2004, 02:17 PM
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Oh Mikie. I thought about these things alot when I lived in San Francisco too, and it's the main reason I will never ever live there again. Things I witnessed there just crushed my soul. When I first arrived everyone told me not to give money to beggars because they were all on drugs. Once I opened my eyes I realized this wasn't true at all, at least not for all of them. If I left a restaurant with any leftovers I didn't make it two blocks without having 8 people ask me for them. Eventually I just started giving them away to the first peroson who asked me.



I was also in the unfortunate position of being homeless in SF myself. I once ran into an old lady, probably in her 70's, outside of a bookstore. She begged me to take her inside and buy her a bowl of soup. She said she was so cold, so hungry. I didn't have any money either though. I gave her the last of my change which was maybe 25 cents, and held her hand for a minute before I headed in the other direction. A block later I just broke down sobbing. I thought so much about how I would have taken her home with me, if I had had a home to go to. I still think about her face.



I know Food Not Bombs is pretty active in SF. If you want to help in the meantime that is a good organization to get involved in. http://www.foodnotbombs.net/
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#26 Old 07-17-2004, 03:54 PM
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brownie, I don't have much time to respond (on break) but two things: I'm going to look up some shelters and just email them the idea. I certainly have no capitol to start new soup kitchens up myself, and secondly, I didn't intend for them to be vegetarian (though if soup kitchens had a vegetarian alternative, that would be nice.)
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#27 Old 07-17-2004, 07:37 PM
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Your idea is wonderful, mikie! You've got a heart of gold!
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#28 Old 07-17-2004, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carnelian View Post

Your idea is wonderful, mikie! You've got a heart of gold!

Ha, please. Nothing's become of it! I just wish there was something like this.



I'm going to pitch it to a couple places and just see what the feekback is like.
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#29 Old 07-17-2004, 11:05 PM
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Even if nothing's become of it, it's the thought that counts It's wonderful that you're even taking time out of your life to email the shelters. I agreed wholeheartedly with carnelian!
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#30 Old 07-18-2004, 12:39 AM
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I found out today at work that one of the other vegans in my department is heavily involved in Food Not Bombs in San Francisco and that she serves food once a week. I'm going to talk to her and see what she has to say!



I'm pretty excited about that.
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