Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Helping the hungry: Food for thought

I became involved with One Step Away around this time in 2012, when I was trying to get through the holidays. Working with One Step Away, I’m able to provide for myself now – but the holidays alway makes me remember a time when I used to have to beg for food.

Helping the hungry: Food for thought

Ted, a One Step Away vendor, recalls a thoughtful moment from Thanksgiving 2012.
Ted, a One Step Away vendor, recalls a thoughtful moment from Thanksgiving 2012.

I became involved with One Step Away around this time in 2012, when I was trying to get through the holidays. Working with One Step Away, I’m able to provide for myself now – but the holidays alway makes me remember a time when I used to have to beg for food.

Around the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, I was hungry and struggling to find food. So, I had taken to meandering outside of some of the local restaurants in Center City to ask people for their boxes of leftovers. I liked this compared to asking people to buy me food, because the food was always better and it took a lot less time to get something.

I suppose this was something I pulled from experiences I had in the restaurant industry, where people would ask for things they couldn’t eat to be packaged — and then left it on the table. My best guess is they were full and didn’t want to carry a bag home with them – like they wouldn’t miss it if it were gone. And so in the beginning when I would do this, even though I was afraid of what they might say or think of me, I felt it was better to ask for their leftovers if they didn’t want it.

One particular November evening I left the train station with my gear and went over to an area where I liked to ask people for food. Within minutes I came upon a mother and daughter coming out of a restaurant with bags in their hands. I approached them and asked politely if they would mind letting me have their leftover food.

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 Never in the short interaction that we had did I receive any signal that me, or my solicitation, were unwelcome or unappreciated. And without saying a word they both turned over their bags and hugged each other. I left and ate their food.

At the time I didn’t really think about everything that went into that moment or what was going on with that situation. As time went on I came to appreciate those total strangers, as I was able to pull what I could from my recollection. The best I can come to is that we all had distinct value to that situation.

Had I not been there to ask for something, they wouldn’t have realized what they had. Probably none of us would’ve appreciated that particular Thanksgiving so much.

About this blog
One Step Away is Philadelphia's street newspaper, produced and distributed by people experiencing homelessness. To donate, go to http://osaphilly.org Reach One at kevinr@RHD.ORG.

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