[Hpn] Austin, TX -Vouching for those in need - News 8 Austin - December 02, 2003

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Wed, 3 Dec 2003 03:20:10 -0500

Vouching for those in need

By Staff Writers - News 8 Austin - December 02, 2003

Austin, TX - A new program will soon help Austin's needy
get everyday necessities we sometimes take for granted.

The hungry gather around a Mobile Loaves & Fishes catering
truck Mobile Loaves and Fishes will pass out vouchers good
for nontaxable, non-tobacco and non-alcohol items at
participating retailers.

With a catering truck MLF spends seven days a week giving
all it can to the hungry. They venture out into the streets
to offer the poor a warm meal, with a little dignity on the

"The catering trucks go out on the streets of Austin and
soon to be San Antonio every single night of the week each
equipped with 75 meals to serve the homeless and the working
poor," said Alan Graham, the founder and president of MLF.

But this week, the group is offering an alternative way to

Mobile Loaves and Fishes Shares is a new voucher program.

On Wednesday the group will mail out $5,000 worth of
vouchers to about a thousand different charitable groups and
eventually, to those they serve.

"The greatest gift in the world is the ability to be able to
give," Graham said.

MLF vouchers The vouchers are essentially an alternative to
cash. They're good for things like food, clothing and
medicine – not alcohol or tobacco.

"The biggest fear of people letting go of their cash is
probably that their cash may be used for alcohol, drugs or
tobacco products. What people want to do is provide food and
other essential human needs," Graham said.

The vouchers can be redeemed at 50 different stores
representing seven different businesses such as Walgreens,
Goodwill even the Hickory Street Bar and Grill.

"We're right in the middle of downtown, so we see a lot of
homeless people and we feed a lot of homeless people with or
without the voucher program," said Fred Nelson, owner of the

Nelson was one of the first retailers to get on board.

"I think his program is a good way to provide them something
worthwhile, that they don't have to be out on the street
begging for it," Nelson said.


In need of vouchers

The vouchers are redeemable for food and medicine.

The vouchers should start circulating in the streets
sometime next week.

"We need more participating merchants, particularly grocery
stores … We need people and organizations likes religious
organizations and the nonprofits that are interested in
distributing the vouchers … We need [people] willing to
purchase these vouchers and distribute them to the people
that have a need," said Alan Graham, of MLF.

For more information contact Mobile Loaves and Fishes at
(512) 328-7299.

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