When people who are homeless first enter emergency housing, sometimes it’s been awhile since they’ve had a warm meal. As the Food Services Manager at East Oakland Community Project, it’s Andre Green’s job to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table for them.
“When residents first come in, they’re really hungry,” he said, adding that sometimes residents will try to stock up on food. “But when they find out that the food will be there the next day, and the next day, and that’s it’s always going to be there—now they can focus on other things.”
East Oakland Community Project provides emergency and transitional housing to people who are homeless in Alameda County, as well as comprehensive support services. In addition to their large Crossroads Shelter, EOCP runs three transitional housing programs for homeless young adults and families.
Every day, Green and his team serve three meals a day to more than 150 adult, child, and senior residents of the shelter and housing programs.
“The mind works better if the body is taken care of,” said Josh Herrera, who cooks and plans the weekly menus. “People don’t have to worry about, ‘Where is my next meal coming from? Where am I sleeping tonight?’ Now that those problems are off the table, let’s face other stuff.”
Since 2016, Green says he has gone “all-in” to improve the dining experience. He found new companies to donate food (and free up some of his budget), and has connected with local volunteer groups. He also became a part of ACCFB’s Grocery Rescue Program, and now picks up donated food from a local grocer.
The team’s day starts at 5:30 a.m., and breakfast is always ready before the kids head off to school. Then for lunch, they prepare dishes like sausages, green salad, and fresh fruit. For dinner, it’s meals like fried catfish, smothered chicken, or pork chops. It’s food that’s healthy, warm, and always complete with garnishes and a friendly team to support residents on their journey to housing and wellness.
“It’s for the people,” Green says. “If you keep that in mind, you’ll always do good.”