Being homeless inspired chef Mark Brand to change lives with food.
“I believe that food is the conduit to love and to show people that we really deeply care about them and their success. And that every time we do the opposite, it is the opposite. It’s disrespecting people,” he explained.
Brand is a chef, restaurateur, and social entrepreneur. When he was a teenager, and later in life while battling addiction, he ended up without a home, couch hopping or sleeping on the street.
“When you live that, even if it’s briefly, it affects you forever,” he said. “Cause when you are in that it’s the loneliest place on the world.”
After opening a number of successful businesses and restaurants, Brand realized he wanted to do more to help others. He began to explore new ways of feeding those in need.
He started by tackling a simple problem — the fact that many don’t like to give money to people on the street. He created a token program where each token entitles the holder to a sandwich. He began selling the tokens for people to buy and give away.
“What I was most excited about is that you would hand it to somebody. So yes, I’m excited that you’re gonna get a sandwich. Great. You’re hungry, you have a place of inclusion you can go to, that really cool,” he said. “I’m way more excited that you’re going to talk to somebody who’s feeling super isolated and street entrenched.”