“We throw it all away every night anyway,” she said. Every night? “Yes, every night,” she repeated non-chalantly. Suddenly, our midnight snack wasn’t sitting so well. Images of dumpsters with hordes of wasted food gnawed at our consciences. On impulse, we grabbed two plastic bags and began stuffing them with leftover bread and cookies. We weren’t exactly sure what we would be doing with all the food, but we knew that someone, somewhere would appreciate it.

We ended up giving out the cookies and bread to about 12 homeless people at Dupont Circle. It is hard to reconcile how those who desperately need the food are just a GUTS bus ride away. After all, the District is home to one of the nation’s largest homeless populations. One national survey reported that 750,000 Americans are homeless on any given night – our help was to only an isolated few. The statistics alone, though, don’t provide the entire picture.

Meet Fred. Fred lives in McPherson Square – that’s right, not around or nearby, but in the park at McPherson Square. Every day he eats breakfast around 5:30 a.m., and then sets off to work. He smiles as he extends his noble arm and chimes change in his cup to passersby. When they ask, he tells them straight up, “I don’t use it for drugs or alcohol.” Little do the donors know how far their support will reach, as they dunk their quarters in his cup. He does this for a few hours.

Fred then feeds his fellow homeless comrades. “I feed sometimes six or as many as 13 people a day. They really depend on me,” he says. They take the change and fast food coupons he collects and head to McDonald’s or Burger King. Fred strives to not let them down.

While Fred’s story is moving, Georgetown students cannot lose sight of how important a role we must play. Two weeks after the New South episode, not much has changed – food continues to be thrown out while our streets are filled with empty stomachs. How many times, on the way to get a Chicken Madness from Wisey’s, have you been approached by a guy asking for spare change? Probably more than you can count on your fingers. Is there some dichotomy? Perhaps we all suffer from a disease called “theory,” which usually starts out with big words and fancy concepts. Eventually, we get so caught up in the jargon of policy and fail to apply it. So then the question is, “What difference can we make?”

While it is hard to completely eradicate the problem, there is something we can do to make a dent in the effort. Various student groups could work together and end the gross wastage that goes on every night in our own cafeterias. Working with groups like Hoya Outreach Programs and Education, which is trying to initiate such an effort, would be a good start. Our small one-night effort will not suffice.

Fred said his favorite handout meals he receives are the ones he gets from “the college kids on Sundays.” Let him and his friends be assured that those “kids” really learn from and appreciate his perseverance and humanity.

Out of Place appears every other Friday in The Hoya. The authors can be reached at outofplacethehoya.com

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