I spent a couple of hours distributing dinners to homeless people on Christmas day. Thai Siam restaurant feeds about 700 people each year, both on the premises and through deliveries. We picked up between 50-60 dinners (turkey and meatloaf) and a large bag of sandwiches, plus another bag full of cookies.
We were not asked to visit any place in particular, so we went looking for people who seemed like they might be sleeping outside or in a shelter. First stop, the University District. Next: Native Park near the Pike Street Market. Lastly, the Pioneer Square area.
I perfected a non-threatening, no-assumptions gambit when approaching people. “Hey, we’ve got a bunch of food to give away.” I don’t ask, “Do you need food?” or “Are you hungry?”
Back at the restaurant, the people at Thai Siam know this secret. No questions for those filing in for a meal; just treat everyone as if they deserve some dignity, and it works out.