By Janet Goetze
For the Star News
You may have seen requests for sandwiches for the homeless on the Nextdoor message system. Chances are, they came from Jo Foraker, who has been working for more than a year with a network of volunteers to feed people living in tents or camps around the city.
When she gets a call from another volunteer who spots a group in need, which is nearly every day, Foraker cooks a pot of soup or a casserole to serve a hot meal to the people. Then she leaves each a sandwich for the next meal.
“They like to be served in a paper cup,” she said. “That way they have a cup to use later.”
The group of North and Northeast neighbors she works with include Jim Van Dorn, Doug Burnett and Nancy Palari. Foraker was inspired to begin her volunteer work by a pastor in the Anawim Christian Community, which focuses its ministry on the homeless and others at the margins of society.
In addition to cooking, Foraker spends at least one day a week picking up groceries donated by several organizations for distribution to the homeless.
“Street people have no way to store, refrigerate or cook anything,” she said, which underscores their need for food donations. The people in greatest need are those caught in sweeps by public workers, who may confiscate sleeping bags and other belongings, leaving the homeless with no possessions and no place to go, Foraker said.
When she asks for help on Nextdoor, she said, “I get overwhelmed with wonderful, positive responses. One time we needed 200 sandwiches and 200 eggs and people brought 25 sandwiches apiece until we got them.”
However, she counsels against people simply walking into a camp and serving meals with good intentions. “You need to know someone in the camp,” she said, to avoid misunderstandings.
Peanut butter and jam are by far the most popular sandwiches, Foraker said. Egg salad and tuna are favorites, too, she added.
“Hard boiled eggs are very much appreciated,” she said, “and toilet paper is considered white gold.”