The line was huge tonight. More people than I’ve ever seen at the shelter. Dinner consisted of Sloppy Joe’s, bread rolls, mixed veg, french fries and salad, all nicely prepared by Chef Diane and her team. I was cutting cake, donated mostly by Safeway, whose support we greatly appreciate. We thought it was a feat for a king. Everyone lined up believed the same. So much food and looking so tasty too.
5 PM and the doors opened. One by one they entered, some excited and some not. Some were grateful as they took their plates and headed to a table, and some were not. I sincerely believe that those who were not are just too ashamed to express their gratitude with words and find it hard to look us servers in the face as they take a plate that’s filled and brimming with hot food and completely free, all thanks of course to the hard work of EHC Lifebuilders.
Tonight’s line seemed to be never-ending. I looked at the deprivation, the consternation and the angst that some of these homeless men and women carry on their weather-beaten faces and I think, there but for the grace of God go I. I am also ashamed that I have and they have nothing. Hard feelings to express because you know they have no sympathy for my guilt and I have no real interest in explaining it to them. They just want food, and they want it as quickly as possible and then they want to leave and go to wherever they feel most comfortable. It was so busy tonight that two fights were close to breaking out over something very trivial indeed, the lack of an extra plastic fork! With the clock ticking, food began to run out and there was no end in sight to the line outside the door of those still to be served.
Here’s the deal. If you stand outside at 4 30PM, you get fresh warm food just out the oven. You’re supposed to be there between the hour of 5 and 5 30PM to ensure you get something inside your empty belly. Anyone coming after this will be turned away with a ‘doggie’ bag and a snarl from those who have volunteered to clean up. These people all know one another and you never want to piss off your friends. At 5 20 tonight the food began to dwindle. There was no salad left, no veggies, and very few french fries. Sloppy Joe’s were in plentiful supply but the bread was running out too. By 5 25, the food was gone, something I’ve never witnessed before in this shelter, and people were still waiting outside in an orderly line to eat. At 5.30 the doors were closed and some of those in line went out with nothing. How do you relate to that? How can I as a human being just let that happen. I wanted to go and get pizza or burgers for those who never ate, but alas, that isn’t allowed and I couldn’t bring them the food they deserve.
For those reading this who think, ‘oh well, it’s free and they are homeless so who cares if they missed out, they should have come earlier’ THIS IS NOT THE POINT!! These people are human and just because there is no food left and just because it’s free, and just because they showed up at 5.25 instead of 5 PM, why should they suffer the consequences that hunger will now bring. Have a think about this while you eat your own dinner tonight. By stark contrast, at 5 Guys burgers ten minutes after I left, there were 12 baskets of French fries all ready and sitting waiting to be cooked, with ELO Mr. Blue Sky playing loud and clear over the audio system in the restaurant, and no customers to buy the food they were waiting to cook.
What a world we live in! Support the homeless charities near you. They need all the help they can get and they need it now.