Soup Kitchens and Hot Meals
These men found a soup kitchen during the Depression. How do you find out if there is a place to get a meal in your area now?
Phone book: If your phone book is like mine, with no category for "soup kitchen", try calling the local food bank for references. The printed hand-out I picked up this week had two soup kitchens listed for the area. Their websites do not list serving times, so a call is needed to find out the specifics from each one.
Online: With access to a computer, it is much easier to track down resources.
America's Second Harvest has a food bank locator by zipcode and a long list of links for other sites that may offer additional resources available to combat hunger.
2-1-1 Information & Referral: Like 9-1-1, in many states you can dial 2-1-1 to get help finding help. When you don't know where to turn for food assistance, housing help, childcare, disaster relief, or even suicide prevention hotlines, the folks at 2-1-1 can help hook you up with the appropriate agency or organization. On their website's search page, I had trouble getting any results to come up until I entered my state and simply selected the link for Comprehensive Information & Referral. (Hold, please, for 10 more minutes while I surf around the site....) Ah, here's a more direct route to help in your state: US Map.
Once in my state's 2-1-1 site, I was able to type in keywords and my zip code to pull up a listing of organizations and agencies able to help me find something to eat. It took a few minutes, but I finally figured out the right search phrases to enter by looking at the results of the broader food search to find where meals were available. The phrase meal sites and the phrase congregate meals brought up many options, including Meals on Wheels programs for seniors who are homebound, need a special diet, or are handicapped. There are far more listed here than on the Food Bank list, so trying 2-1-1 is definitely worth your time.
School Lunch & Breakfast programs provide free and reduced price meals for low income children going to school. The state agencies administering Child Nutrition Programs are listed in this directory on the USDA's Food & Nutrition Service website.
Cooking for Peace
The group Food Not Bombs shares free vegan food with hungry people, and protests war and poverty. Their website has considerable information about their history, purpose, and current activities. If you are interested in how they feed large numbers of hungry people (these kinds of details always fascinate me), check this out. By eliminating animal products from their menu, they have greatly reduced the risk of food contamination and spoilage in mobile locations.
I'm impressed with their commitment to reduce waste, obtain food through recovery and donation, and buying local and organic ingredients as much as possible. Food Not Bombs groups are located worldwide. Click here to find one near you if you are hungry or if you want to help. Be aware, however, that dealing with hunger in a direct and informal manner may not go over well with the authorities. There are also suggestions on the site for dealing with encounters with the police.
Will Work for Food
While I would hardly call Violent Acres a green blogger - I picture her more in purple tones - she had an outstanding tip in a post a couple of years ago. During a period of homelessness, she got a job at a buffet restaurant and ate for free as a result. She doesn't specify whether she only ate once a day or was able to eat several meals there daily, but it does suggest another avenue for avoiding hunger.
I know from talking to other folks with experience in the restaurant industry that there are always some perks to the job, either free food or steep discounts. So, if you want to get out of the unemployment and soup kitchen lines, consider trying to land a job at a restaurant. In the last post in this series, Rosa mentioned in the comments that restaurants may serve out the back door at closing. That's worth checking out as well.
Stay tuned for more in this series.