Would you pay extra for lunch to feed a homeless person?

The power of paying it forward

A Melbourne soup shop now has six months' worth of pre-paid meals for its homeless customers, after a social media post went viral earlier this year.

In a bustling city laneway, homeless man David sits down to a hot soup on a cold and wet Melbourne day.

Despite working in soup kitchens to feed the needy for several years, he says he found himself on the street again recently after a number of life challenges were thrown his way.

"I was one of the people that went around and used to cook for everyone for nothing," he says.

"And now I'm the recipient on the other side of it again."

David is a regular customer at The Soup Place, a Melbourne shop where customers can choose to buy a bowl of soup to feed the homeless, at a reduced price.

The store's co-owner George Paraskevopoulos says the idea came after he saw a place in New York that gave customers the chance to buy homeless people a slice of pizza.

Within 12 months of launching the initiative here in March 2015, the shop served more than 6,000 meals to people sleeping rough.

The Centre Place store experienced a huge boost after a post on the Humans In Melbourne Facebook page went viral earlier this year.

Today its walls are almost completely covered with prepaid post-it notes.

Mr Paraskevopoulos says they have enough tickets to feed their regular homeless customers for six months.

He is now planning to partner with homeless support organisations, to make the pay-it-forward tickets redeemable for special events.

"We're really just a platform, the generosity comes from the public," he says.

"The whole concept of paying it forward is so powerful that every day it teaches me something different.

"It's like a tree … It goes backwards, sideways, front. It just goes in so many directions.

"It's good for the soul."

Mr Paraskevopoulos says some people have questioned how they will stop people taking advantage of the system.

But he says they aren't going to ask people to prove that they are in need.

"We didn't want do any screening," he says.

"It's a trust system.

"They get to eat like we do, when they're hungry, from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening."

Would you pay extra for lunch to feed a homeless person? Customers of a
Melbourne cafe are helping to warm the hearts and the bellies of people
less fortunate.



By: Jake_Sully (2018.14)

Tags: Homeless, Pay it Forward

Location: Australia