A couple of months ago we were contacted by Staci Baird, aka Girljournalist, to participate in her J226 Digital News Gathering class at the San Francisco State University. Her idea was to invite a few bloggers like ourselves, Muni Dairies, and others to talk to the students and answer their questions about blogging and what not. Then we’d have the students pitch stories to us for publication. We love talking and we love free content, so we said yes to everything and now we’ve started receiving some of the students stories.
The first one is by Alice Debois-Frogé, a French native and quite an idealist who brings us a story about a non-profit named Curry without Worry. Please read it and give her your feedback – but be nice, dear tenderloiners!
A colorful, healthy, earthy, vegetarian meal was the ﬁrst hot meal of the day for Jackson Welch. Almost sixty, Welch is homeless. He lives “in the park” -literally- he explained. On and off for two years, Welch has been coming from Golden Gate Park to the UN Plaza on Tuesdays to be served a free, 5-course meal from Curry Without Worry.
This volunteer-driven organization aims at “feeding hungry people; doing so in a digniﬁed manner; and encouraging peaceful coexistence.” That peaceful coexistence can be seen within the diverse crowd: young and old, homeless, jobless or students all come for the same reason. And Curry Without Worry welcomes everyone.
Yet, for about 90% of the people eating the Curry Without Worry dinner, this is the only hot meal of the day. “Feeding people who really need it alongside others, that in itself really digniﬁes the experience,” said Jesse Seater, the non-proﬁt’s president.
More than food, the non-proﬁt creates an experience. “Happy Tuesday!” greetings are being shouted across the UN Plaza. And like every week, nepalese volunteers play the drums and sometimes someone will join in and sing along with them.”[audio:http://digitalnewsgathering.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/cww-drums.mp3]
“This is excellent! Cool vibe, totally awesome, peaceful, upbeat and positive!” Welch said about the event. Beside him, his friend Andrea “I don’t have a last name like Madonna” is eating hastily. She was been enjoying the weekly meals as well for about 3 months.
For the past four years, this organization has been serving over 24,000 meals to whomever is hungry. No questions asked. Every Tuesday, rain or shine, shortly before 6 p.m., people start lining up waiting for the Curry Without Worry volunteers.
The Nepalese soul food menu is the same from week to week, consisting of: a nine bean sprouted bean soup, a vegetable curry, tomato and timmur chutney, which are served alongside rice and naan bread puri. But food donations vary, such as this week where the bakery La Boulange donated an assortment of pastries.
A non-proﬁt, Curry Without Worry was founded in 2006 by Shrawan Nepali, a Nepalese who has been living in San Francisco for two decades. In 2001, he left the corporate world to give back to the community. Since then, he founded two charitable organizations serving the needy in both his native Nepal and here in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.
Shrawan Nepali is currently away in Nepal working on the upcoming opening of a Curry Without Worry in his native Kathmandu. It will operate on the same model: a volunteer-driven mission to feed the hungry with soul-pleasing food in a digniﬁed way. Meanwhile the San Francisco volunteers and board members are holding the fort and continuing on the mission locally.
While away, Nepali is being missed at the UN Plaza. He brings a lot of energy to the event. “He’s the heart and soul of Curry Without Worry, we volunteers and board members are the body” Seater said. When present, Nepali says hi to everyone, thanking them for being here and wishing them a Happy Tuesday.
Within the next 6 months to a year, Curry Without Worry will launch in Marin County, in San Rafael. “Because they really need it,” said Seaver. But also because by being present in two counties, the organization might be eligible for more grants. Given their only source of income comes from private donations and grants, this is an important next step.
And after that, a hope to expand Curry Without Worry to other cities across the nation, to keep on feeding the hungry with hot healthy food, to the sound of the drums and their nepalese beats for all to have a “happy Tuesday!”.
Article and photo by Alice Debois-Frogé