Serving the homeless

One Less Hungry prepares lunches for those in need

Ray O’Connor
Freshmen Sarah El-Qadah, Gabrielle Gudio, Nigel Burris and Amy Phipps prepare sandwiches in the Columbus Room at Stuart Hall. One Less Hungry meets to pack lunches on Sundays once a month.

Claire Devereux, Features Editor

As the cost of living in San Francisco continues to spiral upward, the city’s homeless population is swelling, compelling a group of students to lighten some of the burden for those living on the streets with grocery donations and free lunches.

“I come from a family that had to really work for what they have, [which] never would have achieved what they have without help from others,” junior Isis Boivin said. “So I feel like giving back to the community through something as simple as food to try to help people succeed is a nice way to help.”

Students in Action, a student-led club dedicated to volunteering and giving back to the local community, organizes the monthly One Less Hungry events that focus on preparing food and handing it out to the homeless in the City. Club members work on packing lunches, but other students are welcome to join the event as well.

“During some of our Students in Action meetings we brainstorm and formulate ideas for One Less Hungry and other service opportunities,” junior Anna Doggett said. “We also plan in advance the days that One Less Hungry will meet to make lunches.”

One Less Hungry began four years ago when Stuart Hall High School student Aurelio Jimenez (’16) wanted to improve the lives of the homeless people he saw every day.

“He came to me and said, ‘I live in the Bayview and I see all these homeless people. Can we do something?’” Service Learning Director Ray O’Connor said. “One thing led to another and that’s how One Less Hungry started.”

On OLH Sunday mornings, participants gather in Stuart Hall’s Columbus Room to prepare bagged lunches, each of which contain a sandwich, cookies, fruit, candy and drinks.

“We used to give apples but since [the homeless] don’t have access to dental care we had to switch to bananas so they would be able to eat them,” O’Connor said.”

We used to give apples but since [the homeless] don’t have access to dental care we had to switch to bananas so they would be able to eat them

OLH also works with Replate, which collects leftover food from private companies and redistributes food that would have otherwise been wasted to individuals, nonprofits and groups that make and deliver food to the needy, like OLH.

“Recently Replate delivered trays of rice, beans, tofu and some sort of vegetable,” O’Connor said. “So we bought little plastic containers and before we knew it we had 180 containers. What was really the best was watching this guy open it immediately and really enjoy it.”

Participants usually pack 100 or more lunches and then split into groups and drive to areas with the densest homeless populations in San Francisco to handout the bagged lunches.

“Handing lunches out is probably the highlight of the whole day for me because people really genuinely appreciate what we do,” Boivin said. “Some are people we go back to every time and they like to check in with us sometimes. It makes me happy to see other people happy.”

Since Students In Action started One Less Hungry, the group has grown from 12 to 40 or 50 attendees for the food preparation day. Students have recently started bringing their families to help prepare and handout food.

“Every time I participate I learn something new about myself and San Francisco,” Boivin said. “I have witnessed the issue of homelessness never really being addressed and always being pushed to the side.”

The next One Less Hungry event is scheduled for Feb. 13. A survey allowing students and family members to sign up for the food preparation day will be sent out via email by a Students In Action member prior to the event. Students In Action accepts new members for the club year round.