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To Replate or to Simply Give it Away

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Jun 15, 2007 4:00PM

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 166,000 people experience homelessness in Chicago. We aren't going to try to imagine how difficult it must be to be without a place to come home to, and we certainly don't know what it is like to be so hungry you would dig through garbage for a bite to eat. We've led a pretty charmed life, so far, and so we try to give back where we can.

2007_6_replate.jpgReplate is an organization (or possibly just a website) that endeavors to make the lives of urban homeless a little easier. Its aim is to encourage diners to "replate" their leftovers, leaving them on the top of a trashcan, so a hungry person doesn't need to look for them inside the trashcan. As they explain it, you may already be doing this very thing; all they want is for people to spread the word. Serious Eats isn't buying into it, writing "While raising awareness is better than doing nothing at all, I just wonder how helpful repurposed half-eaten burritos are to the hungry."

On one hand, this movement reminds us of the (PRODUCT)RED stuff: conspicuous consumption somehow having a greater good. On the other hand, we go out to eat pretty frequently, and often-times do give the leftovers away to someone on the street who needs them more. It somehow seems more humane — or more human — to look someone in the eye than to anonymously leave your leftovers on the top of the trashcan. At the end of the day, food is food, and there are thousands of hungry people in Chicago. What do you think?