By Aaron Sankin
San Francisco “Homeless Czar” Bevan Dufty has proposed a very SF solution to feeding the sizable homeless population residing in the city’s gritty Tenderloin neighborhood: food trucks.
Dufty, appointed as the city’s Director of Housing Opportunities, Partnerships and Engagement by Mayor Ed Lee last year, envisions a soul food truck operated by the homeless and those living in the area’s emergency housing shelters that would cook and distribute healthy food as well as help grow neighborhood bonds within a group of people often lacking in social capital.
“It’s a neighborhood where a lot of people are living in supportive housing,” Dufty told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They don’t have kitchen facilities so their food options are limited, and those limited food options are undermining people’s health.”
The idea is designed not just to provide jobs for the people working on the project, which Dufty has dubbed “Heavenly Souls,” but also to improve the food situation for the neighborhood’s residents.
“I learned about a study at UCSF that showed that individuals who are homeless or marginally housed, living with HIV, that 56 percent of those individuals are defined as food insecure,” Ken Reggio, executive director of the Episcopal Community Services, explained to KTVU. “I think it’s a good idea to pursue and see if it’s a realistic option for connecting people in supportive housing with the food that they need.”
Dufty says he has yet to identify a concrete source of funding for the proposal, but is considering utilizing some of the industrial kitchens owned by the city for food preparation. Meals would be delivered five days a week.
Heavenly Souls is just the latest in the series of outside-the-box ideas suggested by the former San Francisco supervisor as ways to improve the lives the city’s legion of homeless people. Earlier this year, a program employing formerly homeless people tofoster problem dogs to prepare the animals for adoption drew sharp criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Another plan to create homeless shelters that would give alcoholics a place to drink in a supervised setting has also proven controversial.