Free meal includes eggs, potatoes, toast and coffee. 'If you're hungry, let us know and we'll feed you... nobody should go hungry,' Doran affirms.
Everyone feels hungry, but unfortunately, not everyone has access to food, let alone good quality fresh food. Collin Doran, a 53-year-old owner of the Homemade Cafe in Berkeley, California, which he founded in 2011, observed that shelterless people often stood in front of his cafe and begged customers for food or money. Seeing people hungry outside his cafe made him feel sorrowful, which led him to come up with a simple helpful solution. He decided to serve a free two-egg breakfast, no questions asked, reported The Washington Post.
His offer is still valid after serving twelve years and thousands of free breakfasts. Doran's customers are now pitching in to keep the free breakfasts coming. Since January, Doran has posted a "free meal" ticket on a bulletin board in his diner for every $5 donated by a customer, which can be used by anyone who is hungry, reported Berkeley Side. He estimates that $5 will cover the cost of a "eggs any way" breakfast, which includes potatoes, toast, and coffee. "Instead of ushering people away, I told them, 'If you're hungry, let us know and we'll feed you.' Right away, people started taking me up on it. My customers raised more than $30,000 for the restaurant through a GoFundMe I started last fall when we were struggling financially," Doran said, sharing that he had depleted his $200,000 savings account to keep his employees paid for two years during the pandemic.
"It became clear to me that the reason customers wanted to help was because they'd seen how we'd fed people in the community over the years. People didn't want to lose that. It made sense to continue to provide them with a way to chip in. But on days when we run out of tickets, we keep serving free meals anyway. Nobody should go hungry. This is the right thing to do," Doran added. Doran decided to put an "Everybody Eats" sign on the front door of the Homemade Cafe this year to formalize his free breakfast plan. "Wanted anyone walking by to know they could get a free hot meal here," Doran explained that about 5 to 10 people as of now pick up a meal ticket from the bulletin board each day.
Daniel Amokye, who lives in a homeless shelter in Berkeley, was one of those people Doran hired as a dishwasher at the cafe two months ago. "It was like a blessing," Amokye said. Doran said his grandfather taught him the value of helping those in need when he was growing up in Berkeley. "When I was 12, we were settings things up for Thanksgiving dinner and he told me, 'Remember — you should never look down on anyone,'" he said. "That always stuck with me." He became a regular at the Homemade Cafe as he grew older. He began working there in 1999 and eventually purchased it. He stated that the Black Panther Party inspired him to feed the hungry in his community. "In 1969, the Black Panthers started a free breakfast program in Oakland that was adopted nationwide. They knew that change could only be made through action, and that's what I'm now doing here," said Doran.
His customers are also eager to help. "It's common decency to take care of people in need," said cafe regular Suzanne Skrivanich, a part-time English teacher who donates $100 to "Everybody Eats" on a monthly basis. Doran and his 15 employees are delighted to continue providing free egg breakfasts. "My hope is that other restaurants around the country will be inspired to do something similar in their own neighborhoods," he said. "A lot of people don’t have safety nets in this country, and it’s become a widespread problem. My belief is that society is only as good as its poorest person," Doran added. "To me, food is love. I feel good when I go home at night, knowing that I helped provide a meal to somebody who needed one. Everyone deserves to eat."