Here is my response to the question.
How many people can you feed?
It varies. I look at my situation as not feeding people as much as it is giving them a snack, usually a healthy one such as oatmeal bars, bananas, nuts, dried fruit. In those cases I can pass out these snacks to half a dozen to two dozen or so folks. These folks are the people that do not go to the missions or shelters for reasons of their own. They are the ones you see on the streets in the entry of some buildings, along the street on 5th, 6th near San Julian, San Pedro etc.
I have access to a place on Wall Street where I can leave food items so I do not have to try to transport it on the subway. Some evenings during the week I can take up to a dozen or so folks to the Central Market where one of the vendors of Chinese food gives what is left from the day to the people I bring there about 20 minutes prior to close of business. Rather than toss it, he just donates it. Last night I had hot dogs, buns, mustard and relish that were purchased at Smart and Final. The butane stove was borrowed as was the pot for the boiling water.
The hot dogs that folks had last night and the snacks that I pass out at night are all financed by some of my friends. My L.A. blog on the homeless, economy and architecture of L.A. has a list of people on the right hand side of the page who are the folks that pay for all this. Some of the folks listed send money quite often and I could not pull this off without their help. If any of you folks are reading this .... thanks again! Some folks I met through my blog when they hit the donate button to access my paypal account. I then was able to start a dialogue with them.
I try to get folks to go to the missions. They have long term solutions, long term help and full healthy meals. Sometimes I can pull it off but most times it is very difficult. The people that live on the street have their reasons and their reasons are as varied as the reasons they have for living there. I have not been able to come up with a handful of reasons they prefer the street to a shelter. Maybe my friend Don Garza would have an explanation from a viewpoint of somebody who has lived on the street. I am sure the folks at Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission, Los Angeles Mission or one of the other missions have information on why some people prefer the street. In the end, the best place to try to get these folks to go to are the missions with their longer term programs.
Well, that turned into a pretty long answer to a direct and to the point question! Hope I answered the question somewhere in there! I am probably going to copy and paste this into a blog entry.