Taking it to the Streets: Mobile Feeding Units Meet Clients in Crisis

Dec 13, 2018

The Salvation Army has always had a mission to bring love, hope and compassion to those most in need; those who have been shunned by society; those who feel like outcasts. Those who are homeless find themselves passed by, avoided and altogether looked down upon. But every day, The Salvation Army’s Mobile Feeding and Homeless Outreach units bring love and understanding via hot meal, a beverage and a conversation. The units are often the first contact those who are homeless have with the Army.

“The food is definitely our calling card,” said Major Nancy Powers, officer at The Salvation Army’s Freedom Center in West Humboldt Park, home base for the mobile feeding program. “But while we’re handing out food, we visit with the people in line. We ask how they’re doing or if they need help. We show we care.”
And when they’re ready, Salvation Army staff members are there to help them leave the streets. “Our outreach unit has staff that can provide on-site assessments and immediate transportation to substance abuse treatment centers or shelters for anyone who accepts help,” said Richard Vargas, program director for the mobile feeding program. 

Inside the state-of-the-art outreach unit is a small canteen serving area and an assessment area for staff to meet with clients. “We could ask a person for years if they want to leave the streets or get help, and then one day, they’ll take us up on it,” said Vargas.

“I know first hand what it’s like to be on the streets,” Warren Peeler said. “I was homeless for several years and finally got clean through The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center.” Now he works on the outreach units convincing others to come in from the cold and receive the help he did. “It’s a hard life,” Peeler said. “But these guys know I’ve been there and that I understand what it’s like. They know when they’re ready, we’re here.”

The mobile feeding program provides approximately 125,000 meals a year to Chicago’s homeless population. The staff also hand out hygiene kits, and during the colder months, they hand out hats, gloves and other winter wear when its available.

Learn about the mobile feeding program and how to support it.

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