If I lined up for meals at a homeless shelter would I be asked to leave?

If I was an insanely cheap, but reasonably well off person, and dressed nicely (nice clothes, watch, shoes etc & well groomed) and liked eating with others, could I get in line for homeless shelter meals without hassle, or would I probably be asked to leave? Is there an informal means test before they feed you if you appear not to be in need?

I volunteered at a soup kitchen for a couple of years and, no, you would not be asked to leave or harrassed in any way. First of all, we tried to treat our “customers” with respect; your reason for being there is your own business. Secondly, with several hundred people to feed, we didn’t have time to single anybody out unless they were causing trouble.

You’d have to be pretty cheap to make the soup kitchens a regular habit though. The food isn’t that good: a bowl of soup put together mostly from cans, a smushed sandwich, maybe some canned peaches and a couple of cookies. The regular customers are not known for their hygiene. It’s inherently a rather degrading experience despite everyone’s best intentions.

I’ve voluteered for one myself in San Deigo.

Their deal was you HAD to sit through a sermon in which the Pastor would get up there and basically tell everbody their life sucks so bad because you haven’t allowed Jesus into their lifes.

Those who were able to survive the sermon were then allowed to go get in line to be served. Which was mainly beans and rice with a slice of bread.

I belive the mantra there (the homeless people’s mantra.) was “BEANS n RICE n Jesus Christ!”

Oh my. I’d be hard pressed on that one. I might just have to choose starvation.

I volunteered in a soup kitchen somewhere in downtown Toronto for a day last year once. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look or anything like that. They just serve anybody who comes in. You’ll only be asked to leave if you’re causing trouble or harrassing someone.

As said above, I don’t think anyone would ask you to leave just because you didn’t look the part.

Handling yourself when 30 hungry and homeless people figure out you’re just cheap, however, is another story.

Hmm… I hadn’t thought about that angle.

That’s what I was thinking. The servers may not know nor care, but the patrons probably would know and might well take offense.

I was part of the camera crew for a documentary made about the Salvation Army for the Salvation Army. It was Thanksgiving time, and the wonderful people running the shelter wouldn’t let us leave without eating. It was like having a roomful of amazing grandmas who think you don’t eat enough.

I once went on a Christmas afternoon bike ride. I ended up going to an out-of-the-way area that I’d always wanted to explore. There was a really neat old building being used as a soup kitchen. As soon as the workers there saw me, they insisted I come in and eat. Despite my protests that I had dinner waiting for me at home, they proceeded to pile my plate up with turkey and pie. I ended up totally stuffed and barely able to eat my own Christmas dinner at home.

As far as being well-groomed, that doesn’t mean you’re not broke. Most of the poor people out there are working, often in retail and customer service, and have to look decent for work. People working in restraunts, customer service, retail, etc. may well have to dress professionally for work, but they may not be making more than minimum wage or getting full hours.

I used to volunteer at a place that feeds people who need food.

At the end of a shift, they always made us a nice meal. Different from eating with the regulars, but we were working then, so it wasn’t practical.

The people running this place were WONDERFUL people.

Nobody is ever questioned or denied.

If you’ve never starved before then you have no idea what you’re talking about. Obviously your post was made in jest, but I’m going to say that anyone who isn’t mentally impaired in some way would listen to anything if they were starving and that was the only way for them to eat.

Which kind of makes the practice especially reprehensible…

Hey, you could probably get some decent free food by just walking into a hotel that offers a “free breakfast buffet”. Fact is, if you’re reasonably dressed, you could probably sit down, read a paper, and watch CNN for awhile as well. And don’t forget to grab an apple and make yourself a PB&J for lunch before you go!

Most hotels I’ve been to give you vouchers for the breakfast buffet. Some of them are more lax than others for checking vouchers but I don’t recall any that didn’t give you some sort of token.

Do soup kitchens routinely run out of food or do they generally have excess? Do they go out and buy the food or rely on donations? If they have enough food, then feeding one more mouth is not going to deny anyone else any food.

When I went to soup kitchens for a week (I had money, but it’s a long story), nobod tried to find out if anyone ‘deserved’ it. I wasn’t exactly wearing a business suit at that point, though. For food stamps, they do ask (though I don’t know how carefully they check your answer).
One free food outfit I’ve helped a little bit once or twice actually wants to feed non-homeless people. The idea is to not stigmatize those who don’t have money for food, and so encourage them to come and eat, and also, on a higher level, just bring people from different parts of society together around food.

This is the radically apart-from-the-system give food away in public parkss outfit, so YMMV with more establishment places.

Trying to save money, are we astro :slight_smile:

I’m not sure about local soup kitchens, but I do know that the local food bank doesn’t require you to prove your “need” before they hook you up.

A former friend used to go all the time and get hooked up, despite being able to afford to buy her own food. (she would then use her food budget for lobster and whatnot). This same friend used to sign up for “Adopt a family” gigs at X-mas despite have a) a good income, and b) a large family that would make sure she and her kid got lots of goodies.

As I said, she’s a former friend.

We have that here, but it’s also a rural/small town area where we wouldn’t get inundated with folks. They’re called community dinners, held at churches or social halls, cooked by various community groups, and everyone eats. This isn’t to say that they don’t serve the purpose of feeding those who wouldn’t have dinner otherwise.

When I lived in the Big City and worked at a homeless organization, we wouldn’t have thought anything about serving a well-dressed person. And I don’t think the clients who looked less together would have cared too much either.

Nah… if that bread lines not serving a fresh Ahi tuna steak salad or Pollo Asado I’m not going.

Are you sure? I thought starvation was just a big party.