Information and Advice Needed

We live in a small rural Southern town near a major East/West Interstate that connects with a North-South one. So, we have a growing homeless population, particularly as cold weather hits North of us.
We have a wonderful Help Center literally in the center of our downtown. But it is far away from the Interstate. Some of our churches, even small ones, are attempting to address the needs of the homeless. One larger one is considering starting a Room at the Inn program to give shelter as we too begin to have colder nights. This hasn’t come to fruition yet. Meanwhile they take a van around town with sandwiches and bottled water. Several other smaller churches have chosen different days to have free lunch programs each week. And another church had a coat/hat/ gloves/shoes and blanket give away just last weekend.
The problem right now is that the homeless living in wooded areas near the interstates are chased off pretty regularly, so it is a transient population without actual transportation.  1: They don’t know about what help is being offered. 2: They have no way to get to the help. None of the groups now offering help is actually reaching most of the homeless near our area.
One woman has begun an organization called House of Hope for New Beginnings which has attempted to purchase several different buildings to house, feed, clothe, enroll children in school and train the adults of homeless families for jobs. Their plan includes checking backgrounds and testing for drugs. But so far, they have been defeated by code conflicts and the city council. As they persevere in their search for an appropriate building, they are taking food and toiletry items to people living in a cheap motel on the edge of town that takes pretty much all their social security or disability money just for rent. Some of the younger people living there walk miles to work in fast food restaurants. Volunteers also take the people to medical care, enroll children in school, get mothers needing it into rehab, find foster parents for their children, and look for better cheap housing for families of as many as six living in one room.
A couple of our smaller churches of different denominations are considering the possibility of pooling our resources to buy a food trailer capable of cooking soups and stews for cold months and just fixing cold sandwiches in the warm weather for lunches. We wouldn’t try anything complicated or requiring deep frying. But we would need refrigeration and some sort of large electric cooking pots, and of course, a clean water tank, waste water tank, sinks, counter space and a generator.  We may be able to get extras like french bread, chips, some fruit, disposable dishes and silverware donated here.
I think most of the other churches currently attempting to feed the homeless would probably join in this effort. If we post flyers near the Interstate access roads, it shouldn’t take long to get the word out about the times and places the food trailer would be near more easily accessible areas.
What we need is advice and information from anyone with experience in this area of food trailers, permits needed, liability insurance, cooking equipment, size of generators needed for this size operation. And what we need to ask when searching for a used trailer online.  We know that air conditioning and heating would be needed normally, but the short hours of operation for probably just two sites near two Highway/Interstate intersections and tailoring our food to the temperatures hopefully will make this a luxury, rather than a necessity. Plus, having heat and air, while the homeless have neither, seems inappropriate.
If you know anything helpful for this project or can pass on sources of information, we would be very grateful. And all prayers greatly appreciated.
Eileen

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on October 21, 2016, in faith, hope, Justice, Love, Prayer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. What a wonderful idea this is. May God bless you all in your efforts.

  2. so sad… in the richest and most powerful country in the world… 😦 all I know is that God will NEVER do anything in someone’s place, therefore action & acts!!! The Government should provide shelter(s) and food – a decent life for the people…

    • |For several years I worked for the military. It took as much paperwork to get toilet paper as a rocket. And if you made a mistake and bought the wrong thing, no matter how expensive, there was no method for undoing it. The bigger a corporation or government is the more mistakes are made and the more idiocy prevails. A lot of the homeless are veterans no longer functional enough to work, but not sick enough to be hospitalized against their will. Some homeless are addicts and some are mentally deficient. We have closed down many state run mental hospitals. And they can no longer jail “vagrants,” since there are too many of them. For many unskilled workers a minimum wage won’t cover decent shelter, clothes, water and electricity, never-the-less food or medical services, so it’s a life style choice. Many do seem now to have cell phones however. The priest that started “Room at the Inn”, where churches set up cots and bedding at night during the cold months and provide hot meals and showers, continued to direct this program for over thirty years after his mother was killed while by a homeless person they were helping. There don’t seem to be any simple practical answers.

  3. Melanie. Those of us who pray, ask for help to know what is the best way for us to help. Not instead of doing what we can. We also pray when there is simply nothing we can do. Praying is a way of caring and a way of listening…it’s not instead of doing something when we can. The city and county government are not helping citizens create housing for the homeless, because that will attract more homeless and create other problems. I understand that, but feel we need to address the problems of the homeless themselves, instead of just considering them a problem.

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