For most of us, a peanut butter sandwich is just that, a sandwich. But to Erin Dinan, it’s an instrument of social change.
Dinan is the founder of One Sandwich at a Time, a New York-based charity that engages volunteers in large-scale sandwich making events to feed the city’s hungry and homeless.
Her inspiration came from a chance encounter with a homeless man in a train station. Dinan had just bought herself a sandwich when the man approached her for help. She instinctively shared half of her meal and the man’s response made a powerful impression on her.
“I think he was surprised that someone had done it, and he was so grateful that someone would help him make it to his next meal,” recalls Dinan. “It was an image that really stuck with me.”
Erin then began packing extra sandwiches in her bag each day and distributing them on the street. After sharing her experiences with friends, they encouraged her to start a non-profit.
Her charity has since fed thousands of hungry and homeless individuals in New York and Erin plans to ultimately launch One Sandwich at a Time chapters in other cities.
“But on a personal level,” says Dinan, “I measure success in the lives we touch.”
“When someone comes up to me in a shelter and takes a sandwich and they hug me and thank me, I feel content. Because I know we have touched the life of one person. And for me, that goes a long way.”