The largest number of unsheltered homeless in the United States reside in a 54-block area in downtown Los Angeles. In this area, nicknamed “Skid Row,” culinary prospects are low, and hopes can be even lower.
However, one operation — and one woman in particular — is trying to make a change for the better.
Delilah Cannon, 23, is the senior chef at Union Rescue Mission (URM), a Los Angeles nonprofit that prepares more than 2,000 meals a day for homeless and displaced people.
Prior to joining URM to direct and oversee the preparation of these mass meals, Cannon worked as a caterer for the Grammy Awards and Universal Studios, decidedly worlds away from the Rescue Mission.
“I got kind of bored working at Universal Catering,” Cannon says in this short documentary video produced by Buzzfeed, adding, “It was a point in my life where I think I needed a deeper meaning.”
That deeper meaning came in the form of the Mission, who reached out and asked if she might be interested in taking over their kitchen. She was.
“I’d never been to Skid Row, so when I first came down here it was a little bit shocking,” Cannon says in the video. However, she quickly took to the position, adding, “I love working here. I love my job. I look forward every day to coming to work.”
Cannon, who oversees a team of rotating volunteers, manages a rotating menu which offers up a variety of selections for each night of the week. On Tuesday, it’s taco night — meaning steak tacos, rice, beans, and salad. And don’t forget the ice cream for dessert.
Still, working in an area in such dire need is challenging, and Cannon says, “Coming around here, it’s so surreal, and it’s heartbreaking.”
What raises her spirits, however, are the people she gets to serve every day: “They’re like family. They’re like my nieces, my nephews, my sisters, my brothers.”
For that reason, Cannon takes immense pride in her job and the mission of the URM.
In her own words, “Hopefully when they come and they eat, they’ll be happy and they forget about where they are. Because that’s my main goal, to get them to forget and think they’re at a five-star restaurant.”
To find out more about Delilah and the Union Rescue Mission, watch the video above.
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