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Friday, June 1, 2012

Ike's Place Commits to Feeding Homeless Youth

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 10:15 AM

click to enlarge Better than PB&Js
  • Better than PB&Js

A local nonprofit scored three months' worth of Ike's Place sandwiches to hand out to the city's homeless youth, thanks to a successful Facebook campaign.

"At the Crossroads" has been working with kids from the Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods who haven't had a stable or consistent place to call home for the last decade. The organization's staff performs street outreach in the evenings, staying out as late as 11 p.m. to deliver food and hygiene supplies while connecting homeless youth to much-needed services. 

For 14 years, they've doled out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- items that were available at the food bank and wouldn't spoil. That's about to change.

One of the non-profit's former clients, Kevin McCracken, started his own business after he got off the streets. His printing company, "Social Imprints," hired other formerly homeless or addicted folks. And McCracken was able to give back to At the Crossroads by serving on its board of directors. 

Ike Shehadeh, the man behind the locally famous sandwich joint, was one of McCracken's customers. Shehadeh had also been homeless in the Mission as a teen, before starting his sandwich company. After brainstorming with McCracken and At the Crossroad's director, Rob Gitin, Ike's Place joined the nonprofit's "I Think I Can" fundraising campaign. 

The challenge was simple: Get 20,000 people to like the Ike's Place Facebook page and "At the Crossroads" would get sandwiches twice a week to hand out to kids during outreach for three months. An additional 10,000 "likes" would get the organization a year's worth of Ike's sandwiches.

Yesterday, they reached their goal of 20,000 clicks. Bye-bye PB&J dinners.

According to Gitin, this donation will make a huge difference to the kids they serve. "They have a hard time coming by food and they have to beg for it, dig into trash cans, eat people's leftovers," he says. Gitin believes that food is one of the most important items that allows the non-profit to establish trust with homeless youth. And he could see a direct link between higher-quality food and increased self-esteem.

"We value them and think they deserve good things in life, not mediocrity," Gitin says. "Our kids are going to feel really special -- like we care about them, Ike's cares about them, and the community cares about them."

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Laura Rena Murray


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