• Gianna

#46 "It really is one sandwich at a time"

My lunch crew in second grade consisted of ten girls. We would follow the same routine every single day. Hand in hand, we would make our way to the cafeteria carrying our Disney themed lunch boxes. Next, we would sit down at the far-left table by the windows and discuss the most recent Junie B Jones book. Then, it was sandwich time. Sandwich time was our version of America’s Next Top Chef with a group of second graders. We would rate who had the best sandwich each day and sometimes even trade them.

I bet Grounds of Change Interviewee #46, Erin Dinan, would have enjoyed my second grade lunch table. She understands the significance of a sandwich, just like we did. She started an organization called “One Sandwich At A Time,” that has fed over 100,000 hungry New Yorkers. Her story is much better than my lunch crew sandwich time story.

Check it out!

As a high schooler, Erin was talkative, outgoing and kind. Skip ahead to Erin as an adult, and you would notice that nothing about her personality has changed. One morning, Erin quickly stopped to buy a sandwich on her way to make a train at Grand Central Station in New York City. As she headed to the platform, a homeless man approached her asking for money to buy food. Without thinking, she handed him half of her meal.  Shocked and grateful, he accepted it. She continued to run to the train, and when she sat down, she couldn't get the interaction she just had out of her mind. She couldn't imagine how hungry the man must have been, or when he would be getting his next meal. 

Erin thought about how many other people were in a situation similar to the man who ate the other half of her BLT. If she could give all of them a sandwich, they wouldn’t be hungry seemed so simple. 

So, she decided to create a nonprofit with her simple idea and name it One Sandwich At A Time Together with volunteers and their board, One Sandwich at a Time constructs peanut butter & jelly and ham & cheese sandwiches, bagging them up and delivering them to the areas in which they are most needed - including food pantries, homeless shelters and food distribution centers serving victims of natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy.

So, what can we learn from Erin? 

We can think about how each marathon begins with the first step, each test begins with the first problem, and ending world hunger begins with feeding the first person. We don’t need to over complicate things. If we all step up and do our part, the impact would be unreal. If the ten girls at my lunch table would have split our sandwiches with someone in need every day that school year, it would have supplied 1800 meals. That example might be a stretch, but it is all about how acts of kindness can add up really fast.

Right now, our world is facing a scary time, yet so many people are choosing to make the impact they can. From essential workers working countless hours, to people buying groceries for their neighbors, to teachers going the extra mile, to so much more. The kindness is countless. 

What kind act will you do today? 

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