sharing food with the homeless

Letting No Leftovers Go To Waste

A high school trip becomes a lesson in humanity

On a class trip to Germany in their junior year of high school, Garrett Price and his friends found themselves with a little more food on their hands than they knew what to do with.

“At the end of the trip there was a celebratory dinner, and we went out to this restaurant buffet,” Price recalls. The students’ hosts “laid out a bunch of food, and at the end of it there was a lot left.” So when one of Price’s friends suggested they wrap up the extra food and hand it out to homeless people in Stuttgart, where the class was ending their trip, Price and two or three other students volunteered to help. “We got some tin foil from the restaurant owners and wrapped up a bunch of the food that was left over and went out looking for people.”

“It was a pretty good amount of food. I filled my fairly deep coat pockets with little things wrapped up, and I think everybody was holding onto something,” Price says. “We had to look in some odd places, like various seemingly barely used alleyways around this old shopping center. It was the kind of places we probably shouldn’t have been poking around at 11 pm,” Price said.

“We found ourselves in the town center and started giving things out. People accepted with some trepidation.”

Though Price had at first been uncertain, he quickly found a reason to participate. “I less thought it sounded fun and more wanted to stick around to make sure things didn’t go south,” he told Good Turns recently. “I think my impression was that the homeless of that area would be aggressive and crazy, kind of like we have in San Francisco, which didn’t end up being the case. We went out and sort of wandered around, and found ourselves in the town center and started giving things out. People accepted with some trepidation, I thought.”

“It was February, so it was still winter. There was no snow, but it was cold,” Price says. As one of the students was “talkative,” the group got to hear some of the stories of the people they were bringing food for. “At least one family were refugees from a conflict-ridden country in the middle east. It was a man, his wife, and their daughter, and they were just sort of hanging out on some blankets on top of these vents blowing warm air up from underground.”

It took the group about 90 minutes, but they eventually managed to give away all the food they’d brought. “We went around and handed out all the packages of food and called it a night.”

“I was happy to have been a part of that. It went better than I’d expected. It was unusual to have the opportunity to do that,” Price said. “It sort of put a human face on homelessness and poverty and the refugee situation for me. I knew that there were homeless people, and I knew that there was a refugee situation, but I hadn’t interacted with those people. I didn’t know what I expected. It was just like interacting with any other person. They were just regular people who had ended up in a bad situation.”

Just as Price and his friends were regular people who found themselves in a good situation, and took advantage of it to help their fellows. If there’s a better lesson to be learned in high school, we can’t think of what it might be.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sara Lafleur-Vetter)

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