Feed Homeless People While On Vacation
Realizing How Hungry Someone Can Be Is Eye Opening
I grew up in, and have always lived in a rural area. With a population of just under 33,000 people, we just don't see many homeless people. We do have a local rescue mission for people who find themselves with no where to go, but we definitely do not see anyone on the street corners begging for handouts.
When I travel to a larger city it is always unnerving to me to see people who have obviously not bathed in a long time, and who do not know where there next meal is coming from. Not long ago my mother and I traveled to Baltimore for business. There are a lot of homeless people in Baltimore, at least to a small town country person like myself.
On our first evening we walked from our hotel to a nearby Hard Rock Café for a quick dinner. We were tired from our 6 hour drive and wanted to get a good night's sleep before our work began the next day. We were about half way through our meal when our world was forever changed.
The table near us was a larger family with a mom and a dad and four children. They had just finished eating, paid their bill and left the restaurant. Within seconds of them leaving, suddenly someone appeared at their table and just started grabbing any food that was left on any of their plates and shoved it into their mouth with both hands. Just as quickly as that person had appeared restaurant staff arrived to escort the person out of the restaurant.
My mother and I were shocked. We had never seen anything like it. It took us several minutes just to realize what had happened.
So Many Thoughts Ran Through My Head
Even though this episode only lasted probably less than 60 seconds it had a profound impact on my life. First of all I could not believe that anyone could be so hungry that they would eat what was left on the plates of complete strangers. I know we all hear the stories of people eating out of garbage cans but do you really believe it when you haven't seen it for yourself?
I am a bit of a germaphobe so for me this was just unreal. I won't even eat after my own family. This man was not just eating after strangers but grabbing absolutely anything edible and shoving it into his mouth. I have never felt hunger like this man must have felt.
The other thing that really impacted me was the way that the restaurant staff handled this situation. It was so quick and matter of fact. Like they deal with it every single day. Which they must. But this still was just amazing to me. I couldn't physically put someone out knowing that they were so hungry that they would eat the leftovers of complete strangers but yet at the same time I realize these people have no choice.
Again, being such a country bumpkin this was all just so foreign to me. Needless to say my mother and I could not finish our meal. Knowing that someone else was that hungry made us feel selfish for eating our food.
I know there are those out there saying "it's their own fault they are homeless" or "well, if they worked they could afford to eat too". And I know that some of the homeless people could do things to help their situation. But I also know that some people just get down on their luck, have no family or support system, and just end up too far down to get themselves out.
So What Can Be Done?
Well, what my mother and I decided to do was to have our food boxed up to go. We had decided we would find that homeless man and give him our food. Unfortunately that didn't work out, but it did lead to something else.
When we left the restaurant with out to go boxes, we looked for the man that had come in to eat. We were unable to find him. But there were many other homeless people out on the streets. Since we were unable to find the one from Hard Rock Café, we decided to offer our food to someone else. We came across a homeless man sitting down asking for spare change. We said "we don't have any money to give you but we have leftover food from our dinner."
I could not believe how happy and grateful the man appeared. He very quickly accepted our offer of food. To me, this showed that the man really was homeless and hungry. It made us realize that we could do this on every meal we ate.
The Beginning of a Great Idea
Realizing how grateful the homeless person was to receive our leftovers made us think. When you eat at a restaurant how often are the serving sizes ridiculously large? And when you are out of town and staying at a hotel you don't have the means to save your leftovers and eat them later. Most of the time you simply leave those leftovers on your plate to be thrown away.
So we decided that we would take our leftovers every time we ate and instead of leaving them on the plate to be thrown away, we would get them togo and give them to a homeless person.
This really worked out well. Once our food arrived we would actually take the portion that we thought we would eat and put it aside from what we thought was too much. Then we would eat what we wanted and have that remaining food boxed up. Then on our walk back to our hotel we would find a homeless person and offer them the food.
The look of gratitude and appreciation was very heart warming. It didn't cost us anything extra. It was really a simple gesture.
It doesn't solve the problem of homelessness but it helped a few
My mother and I actually looked forward to the walk back to the hotel after the meal more than the meal itself. Instead of dreading running into homeless people we were excited about it. I know we didn't feed all of the homeless people, or solve the problem for good, but it was a simple gesture that if everyone did, could make a bit of a difference.
So the next time you are away from home, and you are eating out in a restaurant without the ability to take your leftovers, consider if there are any homeless people around that might benefit from your situation. Look them in the eye and smile at them when you give them the food. It may be the nicest thing that happens to them for a while.