ONE SANDWICH AT A TIME
SEVEN YEARS AGO, ERIN DINAN— a young artist and yogi living in New York City—was running to catch a train. She’d just picked up a sandwich for an on-the-go dinner, and just before she got on the subway car, she spotted a homeless man sitting on the platform. Without even thinking about it, she gave the man half of her sandwich.
“I’ll never forget the look on his face—it was this silent communication of gratitude,” says Dinan. “It became a pivotal moment for me when I realized the ultimate lesson of yoga: We are all connected; we just have different trials and tribulations.”
Before this exchange, Dinan had lofty goals for how she was going to change the world. She wanted to open an orphanage in East Africa. She dreamt of largescale projects that would help feed millions of hungry children in the world’s poorest countries. But this subway experience helped her realize that she could start now, here, in her own community—a city where so many people could use her help—one sandwich at a time.
She began making sandwiches and taking them with her wherever she went, handing them to people who looked homeless and hungry on the streets of New York. Initially she wanted to talk with these people and document their journeys in a photo-journalism project to raise awareness and decrease the kind of numbness that occurs around problems that seem too big to resolve. Soon, her friends wanted in on the “sandwich project,” and Dinan began hosting sandwichmaking events. In 2011, One Sandwich at a Time received 501c3 nonprofit status. Since its inception, One Sandwich at a Time has fed more than 100,000 individuals in need.
“These days, life involves bigscale problems that are so massive, it can be tough to know where to start,” says Dinan. “Creating even the smallest change, and coming from a place of compassion and kindness, creates a ripple effect. As Margaret Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”