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  • Writer's pictureGreg Bennick

Hot meals offered for free on the streets of Portland Oregon for people in need...

For the last two years we (the Portland Mutual Aid Network) have been distributing food and supplies, year round, to the houseless / unsheltered community in Portland Oregon. I split my time between Seattle and Portland, so Portland is a second home to me. Paying attention to community, engaging, listening, and responding, is what drives this work for all of us involved.

This week, after two years of sandwiches and snacks we were able to introduce hot meals to the people we serve thanks to the volunteers at Community Transition Program.

They made hot lentil soup and it was wildly popular during our distribution run today in Old Town to people on the street north of Burnside Street. Temperatures are dropping so a hot meal in the cold weather was especially appreciated. We’ll have more hot meals going out from this point forward from an ever increasing pool of volunteers. 

We have served close to ten thousand meals since June of 2020, and the addition of hot meals, especially during cold times, was long overdue and deeply appreciated.

As the mayor and city ramp up sweeps and increase their aggression against houseless people, prioritizing the “look” of the city over the health, safety, and wellbeing of its citizens, we will increase our compassion. 

Owning a home and having consistent income is not a prerequisite for getting a meal, nor is being showered, shaved, or well dressed a pre-requisite for treatment as a human being. We hear all too often perspectives offered of people on the street being less than. We talked to a woman today who was living on the street only because her place of employment closed due to the pandemic and she had no other options.

To see people on the street as less than is to ignore and more importantly deny that “they” might simply by just like us, the only difference being maybe one mistake or experience of misfortune apart from where we sit right now. Its frightening to think that the fabric of reality upon which we base our everything, might be fragile. To engage with those who experiencing the other side of that fragility is a community responsibility.

In addition to everything we handed out today, next week we will distribute: reading materials to the houseless people we serve about topics like: knowing their rights in terms of the police; and organizing to survive amidst a system which would otherwise discard them. 

Find out more about what we do, and write me to get ideas about how you can do this in YOUR city. What we do isn’t unique, nor should it be. What we do is consistent, and that matters most to the people we serve. Our website:

Today we distributed the following items…

Dozens of personal care/hygiene kits

55 portions of hot soup

75 sandwiches

A tray of freshly baked vegan cookies

Hoodies and hats


Hand warmers 

Toe warmers (!)



Baby wipes

Dog food

Hand sanitizers

Snacks of all kinds

Warm blankets




Sleeping bags

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