About a decade ago I was reading a book that changed my life. It was a young man’s reflections on his past and how he came to understand people, his family, his faith, and the entire world around him. It was my kind of book, perfect for the young college mind that is yearning to be set free into a world of fresh ideas and insights. The author told a story about a friend who wanted to serve the poor, so he bought a portable grill that he could throw in his truck and would drive across town to set up shop in a parking lot every Saturday morning and cook breakfast for anyone who wandered up. It sounded so beautiful to me, this idea. I wanted to be like this guy, a man who was not bothered by the walls that separate people of different financial classes, a man who took action and made friends with someone through eggs and toast and bacon. It was my kind of story, and I had never really experienced it for myself.
Now that I work in downtown Atlanta I can see that this is something that people are doing frequently. There are many caring souls from local faith-groups, clubs, and the like who organize themselves in to mobile kitchens throughout the week and serve to the men and women who are often walking through the central parts of our city. I believe that each and every one of these has a big heart and desire to do right by the people in their community.
As we collaborate with our partners throughout the city who are seeking to end homelessness and help men and women transition into self-sufficiency, we become aware that there are many ways that all of us can work together for better outcomes. While feeding a meal on the street might seem helpful, in some ways it can be counter-productive. Of course, we want no man, woman, or child to go hungry for any reason in our city, but we desire for all to seek out the long-term solutions that come through entering trusted programs that create the support needed for eventual self-sufficiency. That is what agencies, churches, university groups, and city offices are doing every day throughout Atlanta. We ask that the incredibly driven and TESTREPLACE people who feed on the street partner with us by serving within our programs so that we might be able to reach more of those in need.
So, perhaps you are someone who participates in street feedings. Don’t misunderstand: we love you. We want to work together. Our city needs you. If you would, check out this site. Consider coming inside and using those passions towards organizations that are compelled and set-up to help people achieve long-lasting success. Gateway Center serves over 600 meals every day to our program clients and welcomes organizations to come in to serve throughout the year.