One Free Meal Per Week: Does It Even Make a Difference?

As-salamu Alakium. My name is Abbas Ali.

When We started Project Downtown Saint Louis (PDSTL), I got asked the same question so many times from so many different people. “Brother, it’s just one plate of meal, once a week. Is it even helping the community?”

It’s been over 4 years since we started Project Downtown Saint Louis and I have finally found the answer to that question. I started asking our guests, who we serve weekly: is our organization (PDSTL), making any impacts on your life?”

One of the regular guests that comes every week replied:

“When I first heard about you guys, I was afraid to come get free food because I’m an alcoholic homeless man who sleeps under a bridge. I was afraid you wouldn’t give me food and possibly judge me but I still showed up because I was very hungry. You guys greeted me with a smile and made feel like a human. Right then and there I felt very sorry for myself because I’m a grown ass man who’s drunk standing in front of you - not a good role model. I started coming to you regularly. Along with food, you guys gave me clothes, bed sheets, shoes, socks and coats for winter. It’s been 2 year since I have been coming to you for a plate of food and today I’m happy to say that I’m not homeless nor an alcoholic. I changed my life after I met you guys and you, Abbas, became my role model and I had to change myself. I live in an apartment now and I couldn’t thank you enough.”

Those who still have a doubt; a plate of a meal is an invitation to hope and betterment. Yes, a plate of a meal does make a difference and we’re going to continue to change many lives… one plate at a time.