Local Organization is Feeding the Homeless in a Creative Way
Writer / Mallory F. Wright
Several years ago, a working wife and mother had a compassion for helping others and wanted to instill that same passion into her own children. In just a short time, she soon realized how that passion would evolve and how many lives it would impact.
One evening, Trisha Drake, a preschool teacher at Fern Creek United Methodist Church, invited her close friends to her home in efforts to share an idea with them. Drake asked each of them to grab some nonperishable items from their pantry or to swing by the grocery and pick some up on the way to her house. Once arrived, sprawled across her kitchen table and floor are individually wrapped snack food items.
Often the winter season brings people inside, eager to warm up to a big pot of chili and sip on hot chocolate, but not everyone has a home to go to and not everyone has a warm dinner. Some don’t have food at all. And that’s where Drake’s idea stemmed — serving Metro Louisville’s homeless community. That evening in Drake’s kitchen two years ago, Drake and her children, along with her friends and their children, sorted all the items and put together bags to be handed out to the homeless camps. By the end of all their sorting and packing, they had 60 bags completed.
The follow day, Drake took the bags to Fern Creek United Methodist Church and asked Pastor Darryl Glass, who was heavily involved with a local organization called Street Reach, for assistance on delivering the bags to the homeless. Pastor Glass, who leads Street Reach and visits the camps usually 3-4 days a week, was beyond grateful to deliver the bags. Street Reach has around 15 members who help minister to the streets, specifically the homeless, on a regular basis. So, when Street Reach went out to deliver the bags Drake dropped off, Drake was astonished to find out that all the bags were delivered and there weren’t any remaining. It hit Drake hard that the need for those bags was more dire than she imagined. She knew she needed to do more and she felt a calling.
Over the next several weeks and months, Drake spread awareness of the homeless population of Metro Louisville and encouraged others how they could feed the homeless and in turn, feed the soul. Many of her friends, colleagues and family members wanted to help out and join in. Snacks in Sacks was quickly formed – an outreach organization that meets every 6-8 weeks and packs bags to be delivered or handed out to the homeless. According to the 2016 Annual Census Bureau for Metro Louisville, “6,373 unduplicated homeless people were served between October 1, 2015 and September 31, 2016 which is a 5.4 percent decrease in the number of homeless people last year.” Often, the homeless flood areas under the overpasses, seeking nontraditional shelter and living in camps. Drake wanted to serve these thousands of people and knew it was possible.
The outreach group is ran by volunteers and donations. Every volunteer is asked to bring nonperishable food items every time they come to help. Several children come to partake in the Snacks in Sacks program and, according to Drake, they are very particular of the items going into each bag and care about the people who are receiving the bags.
“All the donations are sorted into categories, so each bag is filled with a variety of items – categories like protein, chips, snack cakes, canned goods and crackers,” Drake says. “The kids want to make sure every bag has a variety of snacks.”
Snacks in Sacks most recent volunteer event in October had more than 70 people show up to help stuff bags and resulted in 562 Snacks in Sacks to be delivered with Street Reach. Not only does Street Reach deliver these and minister to the camps, on Thursday evenings they deliver around 100 hot meals in efforts to bring them the comforting, delicious taste of a home cooked meal. Many people have started cooking an extra casserole and dropping them off at Fern Creek United Methodist Church. The slogan, “Feed the Homeless, Feed the Soul” started catching on. Other local groups such as a few Girl Scout troops, St. Gabriel’s Parish and Mercy Academy, all started choosing Snacks in Sacks to earn volunteer hours.
Through word of mouth and the Snacks in Sacks Facebook page, the outreach program has gained attraction and more awareness than Drake or Pastor Glass could’ve ever imagined.
“It was amazing at the raw, honest, vulnerable people living in the camps,” Glass says. “I thought I would be ministering to them but in turn, they actually ministered to me. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing how many people’s lives are affected by these outreach programs.
It’s not just Street Reach or Snacks in Sacks that are making an impact either. Several other organizations are working to improve Metro Louisville’s homeless population such as Hip Hop Cares, Keep Louisville Warm and Forgotten Louisville.
Snacks in Sacks has evolved into a vital program that is fostered through humanity. The simplicity of being human and helping others through acts of compassion can go a long way. While 500-plus bags were compiled and put together, there are still hundreds and thousands of homeless individuals in need. Not everyone is reached and there are those who fall through the cracks. But perhaps with more acts of compassion, we can serve more and make a difference.
For more information about Snacks in Sacks, how to help, and to find out about upcoming events, please visit snacksinsacks.org.