SIDEWALK Supper Project brings warm meals to the streets

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Two young West Enders bring the warmth of their kitchen to the streets, feeding the homeless with home-cooked meals and sharing their stories along the way.

Andrea Wesley and Eddy Tan.
Andrea Wesley and Eddy Tan.

Walking down Denman Street on any given day, I would pass the same homeless man standing outside the 7-11. Without fail, he would greet me with a friendly smile, as he seemed to do with everyone who walked past. Some people would smile back, while others would rush by as though he were invisible. He would ask for spare change, but would also be eager to chat with anyone willing to give him the time.

Months passed by and he remained on the same corner, but something began to change. He started to look less healthy. He became a little more withdrawn and a little less cheerful. Then one day, I walked by his corner and he wasn’t there. I haven’t seen him since.

This man inspired my best friend Andrea Wesley and I to do something to help the less fortunate members of our community. After weeks of planning, we recently launched the SIDEWALK supper project. Our mission is to share our love for good food with the homeless and hungry of Vancouver, cooking and serving them hearty, wholesome, home-cooked meals that we would share with our own friends and family. There are few things in life more powerful than getting together for a good meal, and everyone should be able to enjoy that. With the help of our supporters, we hope to chip away at the walls that divide us by sharing a warm meal and a story.

With an estimate of over 2,700 people in Metro Vancouver living on the streets or in shelters, we know that feeding a handful of them each month isn’t going to help solve the homelessness problem. But that’s not what we’re trying to do. We simply want to help people in need, engage with them, show some humanity, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Our first sidewalk supper happened on Easter Sunday. Andrea cooked up a festive feast of thyme-roasted chicken, rustic mashed potatoes and carrots. We packaged several meals and hit the streets, handing them out to every homeless neighbour we could find in the West End.

Easter Sunday meal.
Easter Sunday meal.

Want to get involved? Here’s how you can help:

• Join our online community of supporters by following us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or at sidewalksupperproject.com. This is our platform to talk about poverty and social division. We’ll be sharing our experiences and stories from the people we meet.
• Reach out to your homeless neighbours in your area by sharing a sidewalk supper of your own or showing compassion in your own way.
• Volunteer your time with one of the many organizations in the city dedicated to helping the less fortunate.
• Send us ideas, questions and thoughts: we@sidewalksupperproject.com

We never did find out what happened to that man who used to stand outside the 7-11 on Denman Street. We don’t even know his name. It may be too late to share a meal with him, but it’s not too late to make a difference.