Unmatched Saturday Distribution! 200 people served!

2 24 QT pots of chili
1 smaller pot in an electric burner
2 pans of corn bread
4 cases of water bottles

That’s how our Saturday distribution of vegan chili started. We packed it all up and drove to the city. Upon crossing the street in to the park and before even clearing the ramp we were swamped by a crowd of people asking for a chili. We have never had an experience like this. People were shoving each other, trying to get something to eat. Think about it, they are so hungry they were pushing and shoving to get something to eat. My world was transformed this Saturday, once again.

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The crowd having us barely make it into the sidewalk.
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The crowd.
Making a line.
Making a line.

Thankfully, Stephanie saw us and came to us and helped us manage the crowd and give out the chili. We could not have done it without her. People listened to her and respected her, and then made a line that we took care of. In 5 to 10 minutes we gave out close to 60 of those chili meals.

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Stephanie, who helped us manage the crowd. Thank you so much! You were amazing!

 

None of the volunteers had yet even arrived!! What were we going to do?!

Julianna went to get bagels at a nearby supermarket. Anthony bought bags of vegan sandwiches from a nearby health food store. Jon from Community Solidarity who we just happened to see by coincidence had a case of bananas on his car and gave it to us to distribute. Day Saved!

Volunteers came, a lot this week, and we stayed in Tompkins Square Park since need was so overwhelming there. We served 200 people in this park alone! 200!

Our volunteers really saved the day though. Ollie and Bear gave out the bananas and later scouted the park telling people we were there. Volunteers prepared some sandwiches and bagels and also went around in the perimeter of the park and its close vicinity.

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Making vegan sandwiches and bagels
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New Veganteers- Jamison and Candace
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Giving out bagels
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Distributing vegan meals
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Bear and Ollie take a snack break after distributing bananas and scouting the park for people to come get their meals.

 

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Edward Murrow Student Advocates for Animal Rights gals! (and Audrey)

 

We met Israel, who has lived in the Lower East Side for 50 years and he told us there has been a lot of changes, that there is a lot less poverty now, but that people are still hurting.  He also filled me in on a little history of Tompklns Square Park, how it has seen riots because “people get angry when they don’t have anything to eat”. And a little more research upon this park proves his point. The birthplace of so many political uprisings, what an amazing park.

Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: "People get angry when they don't have something to eat."
Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: “People get angry when they don’t have something to eat.”

We met Andrea, a vegetarian travelling from New Orleans. She’s trying to go vegan and the guy she’s staying with is vegan so she thinks she’ll be able to do it. She took some of the new Evolve for Animals leaflets.

Andrea- transitioning to veganism.
Andrea- transitioning to veganism.

We met Cassandra, she lives nearby and happened to stumble across us. She loved the chili and will be coming back next week to get more. She thanked us profusely for being out here.

Cassandra-
Cassandra-

If I learned something this Saturday is that our model has already been outgrown. Until we find a kitchen where we can prepare three times, four times as much food, we will not be able to spread out as much as I had anticipated and our service will be this localized and specific and limited. I continue sending proposals to fund a space, as well as reaching out to churches and community centers in Manhattan to see if they would allow us to use their kitchens. Something is bound to materialize eventually. All I know is that I stumbled upon this need, and it has transformed into my calling. I cannot ignore it, and I am obsessively trying to improve it and grow it, all in the service of the community and while being compassionate to animals, the environment, and people.

This week’s distribution was made possible by contributions from Ruth Allison and Mark Meunier and by on the spot donations and amazing volunteer work of our Veganteers: Julianna, Grace, Melissa, Hannah, Anthony, Audrey, Nick, Alyssa, Jamison, Candace, Sebastian, Dave, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, and Ivan.

We are making a difference in the lives of people! 200 people this week!

Saturday Distribution: After the rain, a rainbow.

No volunteers. Burnt pot of chili (mostly rescued and fixed). Zip Car website down. Hour long traffic jam. Forgotten wallet at home. When it rains, it pours. Did I mention it was ALSO raining?! That was the start to our Saturday Distribution. I took a deep breath and said to myself, it will be what it will be. And it was.

We made new volunteer badges so that our volunteers can be recognized while we are giving distributions. We have called our volunteers “Veganteers: Friends of CoW”.

 

Julianna and Ollie show off the new volunteer badges "Friends of CoW"
Julianna and Ollie show off the new volunteer badges “Friends of CoW”

We arrived after an hour and a half in what is usually a 20 minute ride to Tompkins Square Park. Within 20 minutes we had already distributed close to 40 meals in that park alone. Because it was only Julianna, Ollie and I, we did not have a chance to take many pictures. The crowds gathered around us asking, “You have something to eat? What are you giving out?” It was an overwhelming experience. Usually we approach people, here they were rushing to see if we had something to eat, with a heart-breaking desperation.

Julianna and Ollie with one of the carts, crossing the street into Tompkins Sq. Park
Julianna and Ollie with one of the carts, crossing the street into Tompkins Sq. Park

Jesus, a Puerto Rican man in this park and in this rush stayed behind to talk to us. He asked us to come back again please, that people are hurting, and they’re hungry. I promised him we would return next Saturday. It’s time like these that I become impatient in our goal to have a daily soup kitchen with daily chili running teams. The need is so outstanding.

Jesus
Jesus

We started a new tradition of updating our routes in Twitter in real time, and asking you to Tweet us the location of people in the streets of Lower Manhattan that might need lunch. We ask you that if you happen upon a person set up in a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, you tweet us the cross streets and we will try to deliver a vegan chili. We hope it catches on!

We were done with our chili distribution fairly quickly. From now on, if we have enough volunteers, we will be splitting one team to cover Union Square from Tompkins, and the other to set up the table at Washington Square Park. Once at Wash Park, we can reshape another team to send to Central Park too. But we need volunteers! If you can give a few hours of your time and want to get in a little exercise by walking, please get in touch! We need at least 6 to 9 volunteers to cover all these locations. Be a Veganteer Friend of CoW!

All in all, the comedy of errors ended and we concluded the day with full hearts and fiery determination to reach our goals of increased services. After the rain, a rainbow! Pooling our energies together we can truly make a difference in our community, and in our world!

These guys were from Guatamala
These guys were from Guatamala
She asked for a hug after receiving a chili.
She asked for a hug after receiving a chili.
Ollie takes off his volunteer badge to enjoy his chili.
Ollie takes off his volunteer badge to enjoy his chili.
We're done! Julianna treated us to vegan ice cream afterwards!
We’re done! Julianna treated us to vegan ice cream afterwards!