What is Fifty Sandwiches?
Fifty Sandwiches is a registered non-profit, cross-country journey dedicated to presenting the public with a rare glimpse into the lives and stories of America’s homeless. This glimpse will be crammed into a book and called Fifty Sandwiches. A Kickstarter successfully raised $10,000 on May 15th to bring this project life.
On August 12th, 2016 I set off on the journey interviewing 78 homeless people across 34 states on a 14,000 mile, 105-day journey.
The plan was simple: toss a mattress in a van and travel the country interviewing members of the homeless population. The faces, experiences, and stories will be documented extensively in Fifty Sandwiches. Throughout the journey, the experience as a whole will be updated on Instagram, Facebook, and the Fifty Sandwiches blog.
Only portions of select interviews are being posted on social media and the website. Of the 78 total interactions with America’s homeless, 50 will go into the book while the others will be gradually posted to the website. Fifty Sandwiches does not yet have a date for the book release.
The goal is to close the gap between perception and reality, collecting unique slices of life along the way. I traveled city to city, offering to take homeless people out for a free meal in exchange for an interview. The interviews began with the telling of the ‘who’ the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. The interactions were informal and personal, resembling intimate discussions rather than an interview. As each chat progressed, these talks evolved into a dynamic collection of life struggles, stories, and philosophies from a population that is rarely given a voice.
Each of our perspectives is formed through a lifelong road of challenges and obstacles experienced first-hand. With that said, the goal is not only to unveil these unheard perspectives but to capture the story and explanations behind them. If I am given the advice ‘Always trust your gut’ I want to know the journey that led to this realization. What happened when you didn’t trust your gut? What would have happened if you had? How have you changed since then? This is more about presenting remarkable life journeys of the less heard and less fortunate than broadcasting generic or universal convictions. See the homepage for a series of interviews made thus far.
Fifty Sandwiches will be pairing with Miracle Messages, a program that helps connect homeless people with their long lost loved ones through short video messages. Throughout the journey, I took several videos of people I spoke with trying to reunite with lost loved ones and connected Miracle Messages with shelters throughout the nation.
This project hopes to give a collective face to an issue too often perceived as an inevitable rung in the social food chain. By gathering a collective range of perspectives and life stories, Fifty Sandwiches aims to further humanize the homeless.
This book cannot and will not represent the entirety of the homeless population; Fifty Sandwiches intends to represent the diversity amongst the homeless population through experience, perspective and the complexity of their living situation. This book aims to inspire public awareness, using personal anecdotes and challenges to foster the realization that homeless people are not defined by their living situations.
This is no remedy to homelessness, rather a method to raise awareness by closing the gap between perception and reality. As with any social issue, the first step to finding a solution is through recognition and understanding.