An International Network

The ultimate goal? Go global.

If it could become the norm for every restaurant owner to feel responsible for the nourishment of the less fortunate living in their city then we sure would have a lot less people dying of starvation in some 3rd world countries. In places where one simple meal would tilt the bar towards life or death, the gesture of buying someone a meal and it being distributed effectively is LIFE SAVING EVERY TIME.

A meal that would cost somebody $10 Canadian in Vancouver could feed an entire family in congo. This is why a global outreach is necessary. Setting up relationships with food services in foreign countries and implementing the MealShare program will allow those people to benefit from the value of our strong dollar currency. We can give donors the option of where there donation goes. Local or international. We plan to create a network of participating restaurants in different geographic locations.

Starting on the first of December we hope to introduce new members in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Will update you all soon! Thanks for reading and supporting the program!

Dino

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Evolving for Sustainability

It is time StreetMeals evolved. The project needs to expand, and to do this we need a much more powerful force than 3 men and a portable cooker. It is time to involve the vancouver business community. Specifically the restaurant community. It is time for vancouver to show the same world famous hospitality to its own people. The restaurants need to extend the courtesy of their services to those who are not fortunate enough to afford the luxury of dining at the many desirable spots in the city. So how do we do this? Here is an idea: MealShare

A combination of regular donations by participating restaurants and funds raised by the MealShare Team will result in x number of meals per month.

The meals (in form of VOUCHERS available for sale at participating restaurants.) lpus the monthly agreed on amount of meals donated by the restaurant will be effectively distributed to those in the BC low income housing community.

Some families will be given vouchers in order to go claim their complementary meal at the restaurant whenever they like, and some individuals will be placed on a regular meal plan with a certain amount of meals allocated to them every month depending on their circumstance)

At this point we have one participating restaurant which we will announce during the next few days once we have implemented the program for the first test run.

The aim of the MealShare project is to create a powerful network of businesses in the community that can support the people in need around them. Its almost like optional taxes but with food. For example when you buy a meal at a participating restaurant, if you can afford it buy one additional meal in the form of a voucher which the StreetMeals team can then distribute to someone who really needs it.

If a project like this grows significantly, with the amount of restaurants in this city we can feed everybody that is hungry every single day. All that is required is cooperation from the businesses and some generosity from the regular customer.

Ill update you all soon!

Dino


Crazy Cool Idea! Don’t wait for leaders…

Hi,

Andrew here:

One of my favourite quotes of all time, and one that helps temper my expectations for myself, was by Mother Teresa,

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

Here’s another inspiring quote from one of the greatest spirits the earth has ever known:

StreetMeals Update: Divide et impera!

Hi,

Andrew here:

The StreetMeals project is evolving again I’m happy to say!  We’re dividing up the work, growing into new roles and exploring new possibilities.  Again, Caesar said it best: “Divide et impera” (divide and conquer)!

Essentially, we’re specializing in order to strategically manage our project for the long-term and I have to admit it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come so far!  By getting out there in-the-flesh we are directly involving ourselves in the challenges people surviving on the streets are facing.

How do we know?  Because we ask questions and we listen.  We’re still listening.  In fact we’re heading out again this weekend to listen some more because there is still a lot to learn and even more to share!

In my mind, this whole project is about much than simply criticising or complaining about what other people or government departments are doing, or not doing, for the people on the streets here in Vancouver.

For me, StreetMeals is about getting out there and establishing first-hand knowledge, from direct experience, in order to generate new ideas.  And I have to say I’m shocked to hear from the people on the streets that I speak with, that none of them, not a single one, has ever been asked about their views on the services and programs the city and the province provides for them.  Who would have thought that asking and listening were new ideas?

This type of attitude would be suicidal in the for-profit realm: not listening to your customers is the surest way to inefficiency and failure.  And yet in the not-for-profit sector all I seem to see is a weird sort of patronizing, one-way communication dynamic.

All “evidence” to the contrary though: from the marketing and communication materials these various government and not-for-profit entities produce it appears that the people they are assisting are very much included in the construction of policies and programs.  Lots of big, bright, colourful pictures of smiling, optimistic faces, sitting side-by-side with support workers are plastered all over these reports and briefings, but when you speak directly with the recipients of these services you can’t help but feel that there’s something missing, perhaps even something mendacious about these reports.  Especially when it comes to any of the services and/or programs designed for seniors surviving on the streets.

You may recall from one of Dino’s recent blog posts the poor living conditions Francois has to endure.  Francois is a person Dino, Badr and I met and shared a meal with that survives on the streets here in Vancouver.  He makes ends meet by selling used, and sometimes completely new items (shoes, books, tech stuff), that he finds in the garbage bins behind apartment buildings in the West End.  The difficulty Francois faces is that no matter how hungry he gets in the evening he is unable to cook a meal for himself in his own home because it will blow the breaker for the entire floor.  He’s even experienced threats and physical violence from his neighbours as a result of blowing the breaker in the past.  Suffice to say he no longer eats anything at home in the evening.

I’ve been down to his housing unit on East Hastings and I can tell you it is not a pleasant place to visit: dark, dirty and teeming with drug dealers.  It is not, in my opinion, an environment that is conducive to attaining dignity or to ameliorating his personal, social or vocational opportunities.  The city has thrown him a fish with the expectation that he will eat it, as is, with no means to properly clean and prepare it.  And the really scary part is that Francois is approaching 50 with not even a smoke signal of change or improvement on the horizon for his future.  That really stuck with me for awhile after chatting with Francois and it continued to gnaw at me during subsequent conversations with other people on the street over 50 years old.  But I still didn’t really understand the scope of the issue until I read the 2010 Homeless Count Report.

Here’s a few excerpts so you have an idea of the reality seniors on the streets are facing:

It is this last point from the report, regarding lower addiction rates, that gives me a lot of hope and fuels my enthusiasm for pursuing measures to improve services for seniors surviving on the streets.  But the irony is, according to many of the street people we spoke with, all of whom described themselves as non-addicts, that the people with addictions are the ones that have access to all the premier services and support networks!

Many of the street people I spoke with who were either nearing or over fifty lamented about the extra efforts government bodies and not-for-profit entities went to for even the most unapologetic addicts.  Well over and above, what they themselves, as “regular folk down on their luck” were receiving or had access to on a daily or weekly basis.  In my view this has to change!  And so I want to work towards changing this dynamic and finding long-term, dignity focused, not dependency driven, solutions.  I want to work towards equal access and equal opportunity when it comes to support services for non-addicts, especially seniors living on the streets.

So, as I mentioned at the beginning, we’re now dividing up the work for Project StreetMeals because there’s going to be a lot of it!  I’m taking the lead on pursuing measures to improve the living situations, and life opportunities, for seniors on the streets and Dino will be focusing on connecting with businesses to encourage them to be more socially responsible by exercising idle or leftover resources.

We both look forward to our new roles within the StreetMeals project and to exploring new ways to leverage our personal, social and technological resources to fulfill our goals for the long-term.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this project update and if you have any ideas you would like to pass along, or if you would like to join us for an up-coming StreetMeal, please feel free to contact us at projectpallotta@gmail.com

Andrew G

Crazy Cool Idea! If you have…

Hi,

Andrew here:

I love the internet. 

I come across crazy, cool, creative and thought-provoking ideas all the time!  I found this one awhile back but unfortunately forgot about it until I found a print out in-amongst some school papers I was organizing this weekend.

Awesome re-find!

A Different Kind of StreetMeal

Thanks again for the rain, Vancouver; I was beginning to think it was finally summer!  

Hey guys, Dino here with a little update on the last couple of StreetMeals.

I set out this morning not feeling very happy about the heavy rain that was about to really wake me up but then I thought about how the people on the street feel. I went to my local Tim Hortons and found a man named Adam who I see on a regular basis when walking by there. He was absolutely drenched and was using an old, broken children’s kite as an umbrella.

The weather was not exactly ideal for making omelettes, so I asked him if I could buy him some coffee and some food, and if he was willing to come inside and give me some of his time.

My first question was why he was sitting outside in the rain when he could be sitting inside the Tim Hortons or inside any other shelter or establishment. His answer was simple; “I can’t ask people for anything or I get in trouble from the people working here. How else am I going to make money?”

Well, digging in trash for empties is not exactly easy when itss windy and rainy – I had to give in to that. This was just one example how something as simple as donating an umbrella would make Adam’s day that much more bearable. Another thought I had was that Adam would not be outside the Tim Hortons if there was a program set up by the local business to somewhat support Adam by means of Food or other donation. Even shelter from the rain and a complementary meal would help. Or even donating their recyclable goods at the end of each working day.

There needs to be systems where the business community supports the people living on the streets in one way or another. The amount of resources companies in Vancouver have and are able to leverage are more than enough to support all the homeless people in the city if done effectively.  Clothing companies, restaurants and manufacturing companies all have so much surplus material or stock that, if leveraged properly, can save thousands of people. Businesses need to be more socially responsible. Immediately.

Adam was very interested in the project and told me that he would round up some friends of his friends so that we can have a group meal and discussion on Thursday of this week, so I am excited to witness a group reaction to the project!

Thanks again for your time and if you have any project ideas please contact us at projectpallotta@gmail.com

 

Dino

Progress is Fuel

Hey guys. .

Dino here,

I asked myself recently ,”What has StreetMeals become? What is its potential now that we have gone out and done it?” The answer is it has become a fuel source, and its potential is unlimited.

StreetMeals has become a tool that allows us to find the source to major current problems in the community. The project has developed to become more than just a meals program. By going out and taking the time to cook for people and talk to them, one learns a lot about why people on the street live the way they do, and we can help create solutions to their issues.

We cannot come in thinking we can fix things. If anything, the people living on the streets are the only ones who can really overcome their situations. From problems ranging from bed bugs and theft in the shelters to limited resources like electricity or water in the low income housing projects, these matters need immediate attention and current ineffective systems need to be rethought.

With StreetMeals I feel like we can now bring these issues to light and figure out how to effectively make improvements. Its the interaction that is the solution.  Ideas for new projects come to mind every two minutes while working on the project and witnessing the conditions people have to deal with is astonishing.

Simply put, PEOPLE should not live like this. I hope that with some help StreetMeals will expand into numerous projects that effectively and efficiently tackle problems that do not seem to be noticed by the people living comfortably in their clean, safe homes. From now on I will be dedicating some space on the blogs to ideas for projects that you can do in your neighbourhood; feedback from anyone trying would be great as we can help each other help others.

Here are a few ideas to get started:

DONATE CLEAN BED SHEETS TO PEOPLE STAYING IN SHELTERS.

DONATE EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS LIKE SOAP, TOOTHPASTE OR ANY CLOTHING.

PREPARE A KIT. PUT TOGETHER SOME THINGS TO DONATE. E.G. I put together a small box with soup for dinner, some nachos and mixed nuts with some dried fruit, tea and a mug, some toast, cheese, honey,craisins, a plate, some cutlery, candles and a lighter. I put these items based on the issues of not being able to make food in the low income housing due to lack of electricity. This came up when we cooked for a man named Francois that moved here from Quebec and has been living on the streets since 2000. He says that he cannot even operate a toaster or microwave in his housing unit because he will set off the breaker and the whole floor would get upset with him. These items were put together in a matter of minutes and would have allowed Francois to eat dinner that night by candle (not requiring electricity) and enough to make a light breakfast in the morning.

GIVE YOUR EMPTY RECYCLABLE BOTTLES TO THE PERSON YOU PASS EVERY MORNING. THEY ARE WORTH A LOT

SHARE YOUR FOOD.

APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF UNWANTED ITEMS.

We are heading out tomorrow to do some more StreetMeals and also talk to some businesses in the community about doing some projects.

I would also like to thank everyone that has been putting the time into making all this happen and would like to invite anyone looking to contribute Time, Talent or Treasure to the project to contact us at projectpallotta@gmail.com

Dino