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#foodbeast Features Hit-Or-Miss Opinion Video

‘Free Juice Day’ Is The Stealing Food Movement That Has People On The Fence

Would you steal food in order to feed the less fortunate? Depending on where you live, it might be illegal to feed the homeless, however, one graffiti artist has sparked a new philanthropic movement that is catching a lot of attention on Instagram called “Free Juice Day.”

Known simply as, “GUNS,” the artist has become a veritable modern day Robin Hood, and uses his Instagram story feature to give a firsthand perspective of his exploits into casual daytime street tagging, t-shirt making, and performing acts of humanity.

Today, Instagram has become a peephole into the lives of more than 800 million people. Whether it be to try out the app’s latest face filters, air out grievances, rant on your latest peeves, to even posting the latest food porn in your latest meal. For graffiti artists, it’s a platform to show off their craft — regardless of the legality.

Photo/Chris Abouabdo, Foodbeast

If you consider the classic tale of Robin Hood, the heroic renegade who stole from the rich to give to the poor — risking his own freedom for the well-being of others, “Free Juice Day” has similar shades of altruistic traits.

Using only the phrase “Free Juice Day,” GUNS records himself stealing bottles of juice from establishments like Starbucks, and gifting it to the less fortunate individuals he finds on the streets.

This kleptomania is usually a daily occurrence for his 75,000+ Instagram followers.

When posting a news video about it, “Free Juice Day” caused a stir on our YouTube Channel, sparking one-side responses reiterating how wrong stealing was and that GUNS should find a day job in order to contribute to the less fortunate. Perhaps, the general public wants GUNS to adopt a less rigid approach to his kind-hearted acts.

Martin Schoeller presumably could serve as an example for GUNS. Schoeller (@MartinScholler), works with the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, and posts the images on his Instagram page, which usually consist of “clients of the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition.” Schoeller spends time interviewing the homeless individuals, photographs and includes their stories of life on the streets within the caption.

In a recent Instagram post, Schoeller explained he created this project with the intention of giving those using the coalition’s services, “a face and a voice,” according to the post. It’s on the other side of the spectrum than the “Free Juice Day” movement, yet what Schoeller does still raises awareness and draws attention to the plight of the homeless.

Albiet illegal, in some respect, “Free Juice Day” spotlights common societal issues that seldom become the focus of Instagram content. Images of homelessness and poverty are reoccurring norms within GUNS’ digital storytelling. For graffiti writers, obscure regions of public space become the ideal environments to produce art, yet, these dark fringes of society enable drug addiction, homelessness and untreated mental illnesses to thrive.

For most of us, it’s easier to ignore these unfortunate occurrences when it is out of sight. Still, Free Juice Day might actually be forcing people to see the real picture. GUNS is stealing. He’s also giving. Regardless of the consequences or legal morality, he’s doing it.

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Not much is known about GUNS beyond graffiti art and his Free Juice Day movement, however, despite the unidentified artist’s significant Instagram following.

While Starbucks locations seem to be the main target of Free Juice Day, GUNS’ digital escapades also showcase the spray-happy artist stealing pet food and other supplies, which he hand delivers to the less fortunate and their pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you think of Robin Hood, what do you envision? If he were alive today (or ever) do you think he would steal from spots like Starbucks? Would Robin Hood even be down with Free Juice Day in the first place? Would Robin Hood paint graffiti as a means to beautify his surroundings?

In the true sense of an outlaw, why wouldn’t he?

I asked my Facebook network how they felt about stealing to feed the less fortunate, and though the well-intentioned act expectedly received some merit, there were some mixed responses.

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Foodbeast staff writer Costa Spyrou said he could see why someone would be willing to risk their freedom for others.

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Foodbeast’s Co-Founder Elie Ayrouth said he might not have the juevos,  and stated he’s basically against stealing in general, which makes sense.

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James Delgado replied that he wouldn’t risk his freedom.

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While it’s safe to say that Starbucks won’t go out of business due to “Free Juice Day,” it’s obviously going to piss some people off, although it’s unclear if  GUNS even cares. It’s also unclear if there’s an endgame to Free Juice Day — or why it’s even a thing.

For graffiti purists, stealing is part of game. Some will argue that graffiti can only be considered graffiti if it is performed illegally. Meaning, everything from supplies and location are taken without permission — all times.

In that respect, GUNS is truly a purist. It became clear that in order to understand “Free Juice Day,” I needed to let go of any conventional set of rules or moral compass, which is a difficult concept to grasp — but it’s through that unconventional mindset that makes Free Juice Day possible.

After months of watching GUNS stories, it became clear that normal rules didn’t apply.

Working on this story, I had sparse interactions with GUNS through Instagram direct messages. While he allowed me to tell this story, not much else transpired.  My day consisted of taking screen recordings of his Insta Stories, sending him messages and hoping for a reply. I became eager to see new material, up late at night with my cellphone glowing, rewatching his Instagram story dozens of times before they disappeared. It became like tracking wild game.

While people are upset that stealing is a primary characteristic of Free Juice Day, helping or giving to others shouldn’t be judged by a monetary amount.

Whatever the world thinks of the Free Juice Day movement, hopefully this story will make people more inclined to give a helping hand to the drug addicted, homeless and poverty-stricken masses that survive on the streets — and not crucify the artist for his contributions, regardless of morality.

Categories
Culture Opinion

Why Are Cities Barring People From Feeding The Homeless?

In a country where assisting others has always been seen as a virtue, it is concerning to see bans on feeding the homeless becoming more prevalent.

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It’s not just the man kicked out of McDonald’s recently for buying a stranger a meal. There’s several other stories fresh on our minds of individuals facing legal trouble because they wanted to feed the hungry or aid those in need.

I’m talking about El Cajon, where a dozen people faced court last year for distributing food to the needy in a public park. I’m also referring to Tampa, where seven were arrested for feeding the homeless without a permit. And let’s not forget Atlanta’s Adele MacLean, who was ticketed after she refused to stop passing out meals.

But it’s not even the instances that make the news that are worrying. From 2013-2015, the National Coalition for the Homeless reported that 26 cities banned food-sharing. Our own Department of Justice has rolled back guidelines that recommend against such legislation and fines. With all of these events transpiring, it feels like that as a society, we would rather ignore those who need help the most and punish those who do try to provide aid.

Why are cities criminalizing this do-good act, you ask? Most of the time, their excuse is food safety, as they fear the spread of diseases like Hepatitis A. Other times, it’s because you have to get permission from the government to feed the homeless. This can involve fees and applications which take time and cost a bunch of money. It’s understandable that food safety and legal liability are concerns, but are they enough to warrant the arrest and prosecution of those who are just trying to do the right thing?

For those who would argue that soup kitchens and food banks feed the homeless well enough, it’s actually not the homeless that these places are designed to nourish. Only 11% of those looking for emergency food assistance are homeless, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. An overwhelming majority of those looking for sustenance are the food insecure, whose numbers greatly outnumber those of the homeless.

This can be more explicitly seen with aid organization Feeding America. Only five percent of “households” they serve are homeless. Feeding America’s centers also can’t keep up with demand, as 28 percent reported not having enough food to feed all who showed up. So while the public may see the homeless as those using these the most, that’s hardly the case.

When it comes to the homeless themselves, the Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that 28% of them don’t get enough to eat on a daily basis. Thus, a need does exist for those who can aid the homeless to do so, especially when it comes to food.

For both local and federal governments to suggest that our acts of kindness are illegal is concerning, especially when assisting others has always been championed in this country in other instances.

Since World War II, the United States has provided billions of dollars of food, medicine, and other types of aid to those stricken by tragedies in other countries simply because we had the means to. And yet, we impose fines, fees, and the fear of prosecution on those trying to aid a struggling and destitute population at home.

Why does our policy of helping others suddenly reverse when it comes to taking care of those in our country that need it the most?

Whether it be for the aforementioned food safety reasons, or because cities feel that soup kitchens and food banks are sufficient, I feel that the current answers we have to that question aren’t the right ones.

Categories
Restaurants

This ‘Robin Hood’ Restaurant Charges The Rich Extra To Feed The Poor And It’s Beautiful

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Take from the rich, give to the poor. That simple mantra has become synonymous with the tales of a merry crusader known as Robin Hood.

The appropriately named Robin Hood Restaurant in Madrid, Spain, has taken the spirit of that crusade and turned it into an innovative concept for their patrons, as customers who dine during breakfast and lunch hours, actually pay a little extra so the homeless can enjoy a free dinner there, reports NPR.

That means, if you decide to grab lunch at Robin Hood, a cut of your bill is technically going toward a homeless person’s dinner, later that night.

Robin Hood is run by Ángel García Rodriguez, an 80-year-old Catholic priest who is warmly nicknamed “Padre Ángel” by the community. The restaurant has garnered so much positive publicity, that it’s been book through March already.

Here’s hoping this amazing concept comes to the United States sometime soon. The world could always use more good will.

 

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Feel Good

Guy Steps Up After McDonald’s Refused A Homeless Woman Water

Aside from napkins, a cup of water is the very least anyone can ask for from a mega-corporation like McDonald’s. When you ask for a cup of water, you should be handed one, no questions asked, but that wasn’t the case at a UK McDonald’s last week.

Jonathon Pengelly of Cardiff, UK, had his life changed after a late-night McDonald’s run led him to meet Polly, a homeless woman who asked for nothing more than some hot water from the restaurant. After being rudely turned down, Pengelly did the decent thing, and offered to buy her a burger, and get her the water.

Jon sat outside in the winter cold with Polly and her friend, just taking time to get to know them a bit. While Pengelly didn’t specify what they talked about, he said it made him break down and cry.

Jonathon was moved by them so much, he then invited the two back to his house, where he let them shower and brush their teeth. He prepared them a few days-worth of food, gave them blankets, and promised them he’d never let them go hungry again.

He said, in all, it probably cost him 20 euros to do all that for them, and the couple he helped said they had “never felt so appreciated” in their lives.

The Facebook post was a rollercoaster of emotion, and his final feeling was disgust toward the people who pass by the homeless and mock them. Jon took the time to do something nice for someone less fortunate, met incredible human beings, and encouraged other to try the same acts of kindness.

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Features Hit-Or-Miss

This Man Baked Cookies To Save Himself From Homelessness

The popularity of Jason Mercado’s simple, yet delicious cookies have reached Hollywood for Oscar parties and have even been served at the BET Awards, but their path to popularity was different than the norm.

Mercado doesn’t have a business degree, and is not a trained chef — he credits his talent to The Food Network and Google.

Even through years of drug addiction and jail time, he has remained convinced that he was predestined to bake, starting with the first batch of Tollhouse cookies he baked as a child.

“This is what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to bake those cookies at 11, I was supposed to go to jail, I was supposed to be an addict — because everything I’ve done now, has gotten me where I’m at in my life.”

Now at 44 years old, and more than a decade sober, Mercado owns a successful cookie and dessert company, Sweet Mission Cookie Co. Unfortunately, the cookie didn’t always crumble so perfectly.

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In 2013, Jason moved from Philadelphia to California — flat broke, a drug-related felony on his record — just to risk starting his own company, under the most unstable circumstances imaginable.

“I started the company when I was homeless. When I left Philadelphia, I had backpack full of clothes, a duffle bag full of food and $60 cash in my pocket.”

Homelessness is a real issue in our society. While mental health and addiction can directly contribute to individual situations, Mercado’s story illustrates the difficult circumstances average people can face when struggling to find employment, pay rent, and make ends meet.

It’s easy to dismiss the real issue, but regardless of an individual’s level of homelessness, the problem still exists. Mercado never spent time panhandling, or begging, yet his story showcases how easily individuals can slip through the cracks without a proper support system.

At 40, Mercado was laid off from his managerial position at Starbucks. He found himself living on the streets of Philadelphia, a city he had called home for more than a decade. In order to survive, Mercado joined the Occupy Philadelphia movement. Although he wasn’t politically motivated, he didn’t want to miss his only method for survival.

His imposing 6′ 3” frame arrived at the Occupy encampment, about three weeks after the Philadelphia 99 percenters had started to stage their protests. Mercado recalls seeing waves of people spilling onto the front lawn of Philadelphia City Hall, building makeshift shelters, dropping off food, clothing, and other goods to help sustain those protesting inside this giant tent city.

“For lack of a better term, I was an occupier. I slept in a tent — actually I slept in a tent with two other people. This is on the grounds of Philadelphia City Hall, not the back, the front of City Hall. It was crazy.”

It was through this chaos where Mercado found time to ideate a plan for his own cookie business. Mercado explained that while living within Occupy, his day to day activities went along normally. He admits there was probably people he met on a daily that had no idea he was homeless.

“As far as living in the tent, probably about 2 and a half months, maybe a little less time. I think at the time I was stuck on the idea of starting this business, I went about my daily life, just without a permanent place to stay.”

However, even during this politically charged protest underway, Mercado admits some of the Occupiers became less and less concerned with the movement. As a recovering addict, he admits seeing drug and alcohol use throughout the encampment. Although he abstained from using, Mercado said he felt Occupiers had lost their focus and the concept of the Occupy movement began to dissolve.

“I think when it first started, it was a real cause for it. I think as it went along, it drifted. It transitioned from Occupy, to almost like a party atmosphere. To be honest, it didn’t bother me, because I already knew what I wanted to do.”

While living as an Occupier, Jason was told about an extended education class, offering a course on business startup basics. He knew very well he wouldn’t be able to pay the fees — but he enrolled without hesitation.

“I didn’t have the money at the time, but something just told me, ‘Just sign up.'”

With a bit of luck, he secured a scholarship with the program and was able to get his fees waived. Still he needed more room to bake.

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While living in homeless shelters and using local kitchen space to bake, Mercado started gaining notoriety by selling his cookies under the company name, ‘Just Cookies’ in Philly. He had saved up to about $2,000 when he was ripped off by a business partner. Floundering at this point, he tried to secure a loan, but was denied.

Mercado then headed to California for a fresh start.

He found a sober living home in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he found a job as a dishwasher at Taco Bell, then located a humble commissary kitchen space to bake cookies in.

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About four months after arriving in California, he received a phone call from someone who found him on Facebook, wanting to hire him for what he would pleasantly find out to be a pretty special event.

“I was invited to do an Oscar’s post-party at the W Hotel in Hollywood. I was shocked but had my guard up at the same time. I didn’t even know where I was going to bake at.”

The order required at least 1,500 cookies. With a little extra help, he baked 2,500. Later that year, Sweet Mission Cookies was booked for the BET Awards. Local press started noticing Mercado’s story shortly after and the rest is history.

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Now, three years after arriving in California, Mercado still works part time at Taco Bell, the place that gave him his first California paycheck, with the alternative of  Sweet Mission Cookie Company’s continued growth. He operates his cookie business out of the 4th Street Market in Santa Ana, Calif., where he works as The East End Kitchen Coordinator and Event Planner.

However, the way he makes his money is different than how he makes a living. Mercado bakes to inspire others.

He sees the shape of a cookie as a metaphor. To him, it’s a personal philosophy for ‘completeness’. It has now become his mission to help others who may find themselves struggling, like he was, to find their path off the streets.

“I always tell people, ‘A cookie is round and it represents ‘completeness’ — being able to make a complete turnaround, starting over again.”

Mercado does not take his success for granted and is dedicated helping others. Currently he is working to form a non-profit, aptly named, The Sweet Mission Project, which hosts pop-up meals that feed the less fortunate.

The casual optimism that Mercado exudes showcases his drive to accomplish great things. He’s thankful for his experiences, and accepts that not everything is meant to be mainstream.

“I created my destiny — against being an addict, against being homeless, against the bank — I stuck with what I believed in and as long as I had that belief in myself, I knew it was going to work.”

As a one man team, Mercado does not rate his success by monetary units. He carries a larger than life attitude with a kind, but determined work-ethic and modest entrepreneurial attitude.

The term ‘trailblazer,’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as, “a person that makes a new track through wild country. A pioneer, or an innovator.”

Mercado is such, a living example of what can be accomplished when sacrifices are made. He also lives to empower and inspire. Moreover, Mercado is a survivor who is still working to give back to the community that has enabled him to accomplish his goals.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Pope Francis Throws Pizza Parties For The Homeless In Rome, Seriously

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The Pope’s throwing Pizza parties and taking everyone to the beach on the western coast of Italy. Where do we sign up?

OK, well, he isn’t exactly taking everybody. You see there is a certain criteria you must meet, as you kinda’ have to be a vagrant or pauper to enjoy the Popes benevolence, Vatican Insider said.

For the past two weeks, the Supreme Pontiff’s aides have rounded up groups of Rome’s homeless, usually 10 or 11 people, for a beach day, followed by dinner at a local pizzeria. These less unfortunate individuals are also provided with fresh clean towels and new bathing suits.

If you are perhaps wondering what a group of homeless individuals look like at the beach other than the beach bum image we all have, overseer to the Vatican’s Charitable Funds Konrad Krajewski stated, “the groups make for a unique sight on the beach, since those who live on the street have very dark faces because of the sun, but bodies as white as milk.”

Krawjewski also added, “We certainly are not saving the world with some of these initiatives, we are not solving the problems of the homeless in Rome, but at least we are restoring to them a little dignity.”

Although Pope Francis is spearheading this amazing charitable act, he unfortunately does not actually partake in the activities because, well, he’s the Pope.  Surely if he wouldn’t be mobbed by the masses he would totally join for a slice or two, but until then he’ll have to enjoy delivery to the Vatican.

h/t people

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Dumped Before Her Wedding, Bride Turns Reception Into Dinner For The Homeless

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When a groom got cold feet before his wedding, his bride-to-be donated her special day to the homeless.

Dana Olsen, 29, was faced with a difficult situation on what would have been one of the most memorable days of her life. Olsen and her fiance, who were both born in Seattle, planned to say their vows to one another at Sodo Park, a fancy hall venue they booked together for their wedding day in Seattle.

According to the Seattle Times, the entire reception had been paid for and the preparations were ready, however, when the groom got cold feet, Olsen was forced to call off the wedding. Unable to request a refund, Olsen decided to give her special day away to homeless families.

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Olsen remained positive and told her best friend and maid of honor, Katie McCary:

“I’m going to have a bad day. Other people might as well have a good night.”

Many of the needy families in attendance at the reception were from Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter and non-profit. A team of hair stylists and make-up artists from Lala’s Cuts salon in Queen Anne generously provided make-overs for those attending the charity event. Nearly 100 homeless individuals and their families were invited to the reception that included a delicious feast, a live band and dancing.

Olsen said her family was dumbfounded as to why the wedding was called off. McCary said the bride-to-be was “devastated” by the turn of events, but that “she is very strong.”

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With an entire non-refundable wedding reception on her hands, Dana asked her mother, Karen Olsen, to donate it to the neediest. Her mother said of her daughter:

“I’m proud of her.”

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The family got the idea of providing the special evening for the homeless from Olsen’s father who volunteers as a cook at Compass Center shelter. Turning down her girlfriends’ suggestion to go partying on Saturday, Olsen decided to go hiking on the six-mile Crest Trail with her father in Palm Springs, California.

Her mother told the Times:

“He’s a big teddy bear. He’s the perfect guy for her to be with today.”

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

‘Lameass Of The Year’ Award Goes To This Cruel McDonald’s Employee

Well fuck me seven ways ’til Sunday and call me Leslie, humankind has done it again! We’ve managed to lower ourselves into brand new depths of depravity and degeneracy, but that is to be expected when the story comes from Detroit, a city continuously ranked as one of the worst in America, if not the worst.

One particularly fuckish McDonald’s employee at a Detroit location (shocker) thought it would be funny to prank a poor homeless man named Willy by offering him a sandwich then splashing cold water all over him. It seems as though he did this to impress his two shitnipple friends in the drive thru, who were laughing their asses off while this garbage can of a human being oppressed the oppressed.

In the video, you hear the employee goading Willy into walking over to the window to receive some “help” from him. Willy wisely says “fuck you” to the employee, giving us the impression that this is not the first time this shitbag has harassed this impoverished man.

Eventually, Willy’s curiosity overcame him. As he began to walk towards the employee, whose outstretched hand was holding a sandwich, the McFuckhead jerks the sandwich back and throws a cup of cold water into Willy’s face and all over his clothes. Of course, Supernova Shitcluster and the two slicktits in the car think it’s hilarious, while the majority of mankind generally prefers to be humane. Clearly this dickhole whisperer missed the memo.

However, there is a silver lining to this story, albeit a small one: if you look closely on the windshield, you’ll see that it seems to be raining outside, so at least we can all take solace in the fact that this Moron Burgundy was so stupid that he splashed someone that was already wet. So dumb that he can’t even get being an asshole right. Doesn’t get any more Detroity than that!

Image Source: eBaum’s World