Photographer and humanitarian Erin Dinan wanted to change the world, but was stumped as to what she could possibly do to make an impact. It was a simple sandwich and a chance encounter with a homeless man that gave her the clarity and inspiration she needed, and her nonprofit, One Sandwich at a Time was born.
The mission of the organization is to “create a global understanding and empathy for the homeless population by bringing together the community to feed the homeless… one sandwich at a time.”
After graduating college, Erin decided to pack her bags and explore the world. Her travels took her to over 31 different countries. Her experiences while abroad had a profound impact and ultimately led her to move to New York City to pursue her passion for photography.
One day Erin was hurrying to make a train at Grand Central Station, and quickly stopped to buy a sandwich. As Erin headed to the platform, a homeless man approached her asking for money to buy food. Without thinking, she handed him half of her sandwich. Erin recalls the man was “shocked and grateful” as he accepted it.
What she realized in that moment is that small actions, like handing over a sandwich, can make a big difference. Inspired by this realization, Erin began making sandwiches and giving them to those in need that she met along her way. After awhile, her friend George Kontogiannis got involved, and they established One Sandwich at a Time.
Together with volunteers, in a donated space, One Sandwich at a Time makes peanut butter & jelly and ham & cheese sandwiches, bagging them up and delivering them to area food pantries, homeless shelters and food distribution centers.
Since the organization’s inception, they have fed thousands of New Yorkers, with the goal of reaching and feeding 100,000 people.
On the One Sandwich at a Time website, Erin quotes Audrey Hepburn… “We have two hands – one to help ourselves and one to help others.”
“One Sandwich at a Time is our vision of two hands creating one world.” And that is exactly what they are doing.
Learn more about volunteering, hosting a local sandwich making event, or donating here.
We learned of Erin and her organization from the Starting Good podcast. Check it out for more inspiring stories about nonprofit start-ups.
Photos courtesy of One Sandwich at a Time