A new pay it forward program is spreading kindness and healthy meals in Nanaimo, by giving out tokens resembling poker chips.
Each token buys a free bowl of soup, that people then pass on to the homeless or panhandlers instead of giving money.
If dignity is something you can hand another person Tim McGrath’s planning on giving out out a lot of it today.
“And if someone comes up and asks me for 5 dollars I say I can’t give you 5 dollars but I can give you a free bowl of soup,” says McGrath. “And they get to be treated like real people.”
The Nanaimo man is one of hundreds who’ve bought into the grassroots effort, started by two women here a month ago to feed pride along with hunger in panhandlers.
“And they can sit among the rich people and actually have a bowl of soup,” says McGrath.
At an upscale Commercial Street eatery that specializes in fresh fare.
“When I was approached it just seems like such an amazing idea to offer an experience to come in and experience a nice restaurant,” says Gemma Martin.
Gabriel’s Cafe owner Gemma Martin, says all she needed was the invite to get involved.
“Lots of regular customers have been coming, have been coming here for years,” says Martin.
But she says there is something different this program’s brought in here. That we all might be just a nudge away from making a difference in someone else’s day.
“It’s just nice being able to help people. Even if it is just serving soup,” says an employee at Gabriel’s.
And it’s an idea that’s catching on. For the price of $5.50 c the tokens are now in hands all over Nanaimo, and instead of fearing running into panhandlers, Tim McGrath says you look forward to doing it.
“At least I know they’re going to eat. You can either stand by and say oh that’s too bad or you can stand up and do something about it,” says McGrath.
And residents of this community are trying to do just that. By taking it in their own hands.