“Do you have any left with tomatoes?”

By Charles Mak 

“Do you have any left with tomatoes?” asked a man in his 70’s, who was dressed in ripped clothing and had has arms and face covered in scabs. He was just one of many people who received a sandwich, a beverage, and some fruit from our group on Saturday afternoon. “Eastside Eats” is a community service initiative where we hand out lunches that include a sandwich, an apple or banana, and a juice box or bottle of water. With the helping hands of 23 rover scouts and several friends, we were able to create 300 sandwiches in 30 minutes!

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Our first “Eastside Eats” event in February was able to capture the different areas that we could hand out our lunches. One of them was Oppenheimer Park on Powell Street. Within minutes of unloading our packaged lunches, word had spread across the park and a line quickly formed around us.

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Unfortunately, we had to inform more than one individual that we could not give them a lunch for today because we had run out. Running out of lunches to hand out was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. Based on the success of this initiative, there will definitely be another opportunity for us to hand out more food at a future date, and hopefully we will be able to create twice as many meals to give out.

Each time we have the opportunity to help the less fortunate, it provides a different perspective on life. This time around, it was no different. I will admit that I hate tomatoes. I regularly pick them out of my food or opt not to eat a meal because it consists of tomatoes. To hear someone ask for one with tomatoes, knowing full well he would have appreciated any sandwich he could walk away with, shows that we take things for granted and discard food too easily, especially when there are people down the street from us who wouldn’t in their dreams toss away perfectly good food. All my life, I’ve heard of ‘think of the kids over in [another country]’ when really it should be, ‘look down the street.’

“Eastside Eats” speaks volumes about who we are as a group and as individuals. It is irrelevant if we made any long-term changes in anyone’s lives. I truly believe that even if for a second, it took away the hunger and pain from one person’s life and we acknowledge them as people, instead of being so often over looked, then we did what we sought to do and did a fantastic job.

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This was all made possible by our sponsors Overwaitea, Save-On-Foods Corp., and Tony (Store Manager of Save-On-Foods on Cambie Street, Vancouver), who so kindly donated all supplies we needed to make the day go smoothly. From food and drinks to sandwich bags, you could see that Tony was more than happy to assist our group in as many ways as he could, walking up and down aisles repeatedly of his store to ensure we had all the supplies we needed, even when we tried to assure him that what he had already done for us was beyond what we expected.

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Cheryl Kwan

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