Tzu Chi Phoenix Volunteers: Fourteen Years of Hot Meals for Homeless Communities

National Headquarters  |  September 5, 2019
Tzu Chi volunteers personally prepare hot food for people who are homeless within the community each week.

Tzu Chi volunteers gather in Moeur Park, Arizona, each week to provide cooked meals for individuals who are homeless in the area. Rain or shine, the tradition is a lasting one, indeed. Tzu Chi’s Phoenix office started the hot meal program in 2005, fourteen years ago to date. Volunteers cook two vegetarian dishes, as well as prepare desserts and fruits.

Volunteers prepare food
The aroma of delicious food filled the kitchen

It was a cool day for our hot meal delivery, so volunteers also distributed eco-blankets, jackets, hats, and scarves, to ensure everyone would be able to keep warm as autumn nears

The day was a bit chilly, so volunteers also prepared clean second-hand clothes for distribution.

We prepared all these to bring warmth to the homeless people in Phoenix.

Tzu Chi volunteer Lam Kwak

People donate food regularly, and over the years, more and more people have joined Tzu Chi’s volunteer family, too.

Gary is a student from Tzu Chi Academy. When he and his family discovered that Tzu Chi delivers hot meals to homeless individuals within the community, they soon joined our volunteer team. Nearly every single week, Gary, his parents, and his grandma — three generations — all don their signature Tzu Chi vests and lend their hands in aid.

Gary, a student from Tzu Chi Academy (middle) and his grandma (left) speaks with a homeless man at the program.

I think it is a wonderful, wonderful event. The food is wonderful. What we are doing is wonderful. People are wonderful. And it’s so organized. We are three generations, which is great.

Amy, Gary’s Mother

Fifteen years ago, a homeless man donated $9 in honor of his seeing-eye dog, Cinnamon, and to this day, Tzu Chi volunteers still hold that interaction near and dear to their hearts as they carry out their regular distributions: 

 “Thank you for all you do. Your food nourished my spirit and body as well as my physical self. Keep up the good work.”

A nutritious feast for the homeless community

Through these regular meals, Tzu Chi volunteers know they bring not only nourishment to those who could use some help, but warmth, hope, and the unshakable knowledge that they are not alone. 

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