Bicycles, burritos fights Memphis' homeless - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bicycles, burritos fight Memphis' homelessness

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The Urban Bike Food Ministry—kicked into gear a little more than a year ago—pulls together people from all over the community for a reason. The Urban Bike Food Ministry—kicked into gear a little more than a year ago—pulls together people from all over the community for a reason.
Volunteers will continue on the weekly path to help Memphis' hungry one burrito at a time. (Image Source: Volunteer Odyssey) Volunteers will continue on the weekly path to help Memphis' hungry one burrito at a time. (Image Source: Volunteer Odyssey)
Clark's idea for the ministry followed a seminary class about revitalizing churches. Clark's idea for the ministry followed a seminary class about revitalizing churches.
Each volunteer hops on a bike and gives out about 30 burritos packed with beans and rice. Each volunteer hops on a bike and gives out about 30 burritos packed with beans and rice.

(WMC-TV) - With freshly made burritos loaded in their backpacks, a sea of cyclists riding beach cruisers, fixed gears, and old bikes just pulled from the shed ride through Memphis once a week to feed homeless.

The Urban Bike Food Ministry—kicked into gear a little more than a year ago—pulls together people from all over the community for a reason, according to the organization's founder Tommy Clark.

"It is a very diverse crowd, but we all have the same common interest in offering concrete acts of kindness," said Clark.

After a group prayer, each volunteer hops on a bike and gives out about 30 burritos packed with beans and rice. Once the group delivery ends, hundreds of homeless have had dinner for the evening.

The effort goes beyond just one meal. With the help of newly developed bike lanes, cyclists are able to approach people on the streets more intimately and converse with them.

"It gives us an opportunity to meet with these people we call our friends and we tell them, 'Hey, I've been thinking about you and I just want you to know I care about you, '" Clark told Action News 5 last year.

Since that interview, the UBFM has grown into a nonprofit. Clark's idea for the ministry followed a seminary class about revitalizing churches; based off of creating a church without walls, UBFM combines his passion for cycling and bike advocacy.

Up until last December, volunteers operated out of Clark's house. With an average of 25 volunteers meeting each week during the spring, the organization recently moved to a kitchen at First United Methodist Church downtown. Next door sits a vacant two-story building, owned by the church.

Clark wrote in the UBFM blog that empty building's potential could live up to something more like a community center, hospitality hub, or shelter.

"Finally, I move UBFM out of my house and I can walk around my dinning room without tripping.But the restlessness continued. I couldn't stop thinking about that building and its potential. It's located on our Wednesday delivery route. I have stopped many times to visit people curled up next to the building. There's something about this. I started to feel like it is all falling into place. From UBFM, its publicity, and growth to the church and building. There is something at work here. I know this building will require money to renovate; it will most certainly be a costly undertaking but that is not my challenge. As a matter of fact, I feel certain that God will provide. My element of burden in regard to this project is commitment [...] Aside from my family, I receive more encouragement and support from my UBFM group than I do anywhere else. It is just a big melting pot of people that have huge hearts and giving spirits. Any time they have a suggestion about something, we try it. This is just as much theirs as it is mine."

As the community works to bring UBFM to the next level in the new kitchen, Clark researches grants, codes, materials, and estimates. A silent auction will also be held April 12 for the building, click here to learn more about that.

Meanwhile, volunteers will continue on the weekly path to help Memphis' hungry one burrito at a time.


Clark wrote Action News 5 about the UBFM for March's Short Social Stories topic, which discusses a renewed sense of community. Read more about our series here.


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