Serving the Hungry: The Sandwich Patrol
It is not just about delivering food to the homeless.
The Sandwich Patrol, a service-focused activity at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), is about making a lasting impact --- both on student and staff participants and most importantly, the strangers they help.
“They learn first-hand about the marginalized and homeless in Toronto by making bagged lunches to give out on Saturday mornings,” says Calvin Cahatol, referring to the 20-35 SMCS students who participate in the annual initiative. Cahatol is one of three staff moderators of the activity, an English, Philosophy and Religion teacher, and Department Head of Theology.
“Students discover the roles of shelters and how they help the homeless,” continues Cahatol. “They learn about the different types of shelters and how diversity exists to address the different reasons or causes for homelessness in the city. They observe the different extremes on the spectrum of wealth in the city,” he says.
The initiative began at SMCS in 2014. It takes place on five to six Saturday mornings in March and April.
FROM PREPARATION TO DELIVERY
“The key is to work in teams of two and to make a total of 20-22 bags (approximately 10-12 bagged lunches per student),” says Cahatol, “Students get creative and join other groups and collectively purchase groceries so that they can end up with over 40 bags! Many are very efficient and have an assembly line of sorts for the assembly of sandwiches and the compiling of the lunches,” he says.
After meeting at SMCS on a Saturday morning, the students create a shopping list, walk to the neighbouring grocery store to purchase the sandwich items, then return to school to put the sandwiches together. After assembly and packing are complete, the boys travel by subway to deliver the lunches to one of several shelters in downtown Toronto.
“There is no quota provided by the community groups we support,” says Lynette Fernandes, Guidance Assistant at SMCS, and a club moderator. “We never know how many sandwiches to make,” she says.
Cahatol adds, “We visit five shelters. We always run out of bagged lunches by the fifth shelter. Sometimes the lunches are all distributed by the third or fourth shelter because there is that much need in the city.”
During a gathering on Saturday, March 30, more than two dozen students made 350 bagged lunches over a four-hour span.
“It enables students to learn how that they can make a small difference in the life of those who are suffering or less fortunate,” says Fernandes.
“As they walk from shelter to shelter, they encounter people off the street who will ask for lunches. The students will then hand out the lunches, face-to-face. They become witness to the Christian tradition in caring for others and fulfilling the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy,” says Cahatol.
“We teach them not to judge or ask questions...whether they look homeless or not, you don't know anyone's story. If the person asks for two or three lunches, we give them what they require.”