Feed Someone: mini-mission

There are many ways to feed someone and to be fed. We are all hungry for different things at different times.

We hunger for love, sleep, success, a vacation, and of course, food. If you are reading this, then it is possible, that like me, you hunger for less.

While there are many benefits of living with less, the best is that you have the time and attention to give more.

Today’s mini-mission is a great demonstration of that. Take a little time during the hustle of the holidays, or anytime, and Feed Someone. Following are 10 ways to take on this mini-mission. You only need to choose one to accomplish the mission, change someone’s day, or maybe even their world. Keep in mind that the world you change, might be your own.

5 Ways to Feed Emotionally

  1. Say I love you.
  2. Email someone in your web world a thank you note.
  3. Write a love letter.
  4. Double or triple your tip at your next meal out.
  5. Call the owner of a business tell them about the great service you received.

5 Ways to Feed Literally

There are just over 300 million people that live in the U.S. There are more than 925 million hungry people in the world. One of those 925 million hungry people live near you. You can feed them.

  1. Volunteer at a food kitchen.
  2. Make sandwiches and bring them to the park or an area where there are homeless people.
  3. Bring boxes of food to your local food bank.
  4. If you see someone hungry the next time you go out to eat, buy them a meal.
  5. Donate money to a food ministry.

For the purposes of this mini-mission reserve judgment. Keep it simple and just Feed Someone. I think you will find that you will be fed every time you give. It is my experience, that when I give my talent, time or treasure, I hunger for nothing.

It was a challenge to keep my lists to just 5 ways. What are other ways to feed someone? If you take this challenge, I want to know about your experience.

For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.


    • Courtney Carver says

      Thanks Tisha. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own needs/hunger that we forget about everyone around us.

  1. says

    The next time you go to the supermarket, do what I do — buy an extra something and give it to a food bank. An extra fifty cents will buy a can of beans. An extra dollar will buy a pound of pasta. An extra ten dollars can buy two dinners for a family. By doing this, I am ending world hunger one meal at a time.

  2. Mark Tuttle says

    My last visit to Seigfrieds German delicatessen was awkward and uncomfortable.
    My daughter and I were approached by a homeless vet down on his luck for money as we entered the store. He was truly in need of help. I told him that I had no money to give but would be glad to buy him lunch. His eyes lit up and we exchanged some small talk while sitting outside enjoying our weisswurst sandwiches. The stiff working class people inside stared at me behind the glass from a distance like I was crazy. This was the awkward part ! Sharing a lunch with someone in need was not. My daughter I hope learned something that day.

  3. Andrew says

    I came across your site and love your philosophy.. more is less, simple yet true. I think your stories are inspiring – thank you for sharing these insights and you really struck a chord with me. I am sick of the materialistic lifestyle and see it as a distraction and separation from focusing on whats most important in life – human relationships.
    Warmest regards (HUGS)

  4. says

    In the simplest terms, feeding someone is meeting a need of theirs either psychologically or physically. I work at a children’s psych hospital and the children can’t receive gifts from any one of us directly for the upcoming holiday, just gifts from the unit. We currently have a child in a particularly destitute situation and the moment I heard he needed shoes I was so eager to make that happen (for the unit). I had a child’s heart with regard to giving, an unfortunately rare experience for me around Christmas. Today I told him the unit had some questions about size and the kind he may need and he grew frustrated, confused, and resistant to questions and I required further staff assistance as he escalated. The warm and fuzzies about this were all gone. But he still has a need and this served as a deep and present reminder that those who may need our feeding do not have to receive it as we may expect them to. And it is still what must be done. To bear each others burdens, we must feed those who can’t feed us.

  5. says

    Every month I make up “Bags of Hope” for the homeless here in Raleigh, NC. I can’t take credit for the idea because I got if from another Compassion Blogger who posted about local churches in Nashville reguesting donations after the floods this year. Since then I’ve been making up my own “Bags of Hope” and I try to give out 10-12 bags a month. This month I’ve already exceeded that because we are having unusually cold weather this year and it bothers me when I think of the homeless in the cold. Some of them know me by now and they always smile when I drive up and hand them a bag. Sometimes I ask them to take an extra to a friend and they always say they can take as much as I can give. I don’t know where they go…I’ve heard there are places near the overpass and river here by our community. This time of year I add things like instant hot cocoa mix, instant oatmeal and cups of noodles. Most of the fast food places will let them get hot water at their drink areas and I pack a bowl and some spoons for them. Right now this is more important than toiletries…think about it…I know that if I was cold and hungry I wouldn’t care about being clean 😉 Dollar Tree is my favorite store…I budget $50 a month for the bags and I’m always able to FILL 10-12 bags with lots of goodies. In the summer when it’s hot and raining I get umbrellas and hats. Now in the cold I get gloves, socks and food. When I ask the men and women if there is anything that they need they always are so thankful and gracious and tell what I give them is more than enough. Lastly, I enclose a card with a few dollars and a note to let them know that they are not forgotten. They can at least get a hot meal from one of the fast food places or a sub-shop and get off the street for a day. If you need more details you can read my recent blog post. Hope this helps, fondly, Roberta


  6. says

    Hi Courtney- Now that I’ve seen you turn up on both Simpler Living and Zen Habits, I finally took a minute to read one of your posts and wanted to thank you for this one. Despite all my efforts to keep the holidays simple this year, I was just this moment fuming because of something my brother has failed to do after promising my other brother and I, blah blah blah… you get the idea. The holidays can be so stressful, but they don’t need to be. I am going to take your challenge so I can get centered and back to the basics of what is important.

    I bought a meal for a homeless man once as I went into a restaurant and sat outside and ate with him. He was so hungry it almost made me cry. I will never forget it.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Angela, I had a similar experience yesterday which prompted this post. By doing just a little, we can give so much. So glad to connect with you.

  7. says

    Hi Courtney,

    Just wanted to share how I do my share of feeding. I’m living in a country with almost no homeless people but a big stray animal population. We’ve set up a project in our neighborhood to feed our controlled (neutered & jabbed) pack of dogs regularly. I do 4 evenings of feeding every week and have a monthly budget for this purpose. Sometimes I have to pass up on something to meet this budget but I don’t mind at all because these pooches are our unpaid guards and walking companions :)

  8. Joe says

    I read this after seeing you on ZenHabits and it hit home with me. I’ll skip the details, but this year I decided I have enough, and looking for more wasn’t making me happy or satisfied, just more stressed and angry. I decided to try to help some in my community. I live in a relatively affluent area, so people believe there isn’t much need, but there are many who need to be fed.

    Regularly I call the local foodbank to see what they need and then go shopping. I also make monetary donations so they can help clients with other needs – medical needs, utility shut-offs, avoiding evictions, basically anything they can do to help people in crisis.

    I sponsored two children in the community for the holiday giving tree. Each family is living at 150% or more below the poverty line in this program. When I delivered the gifts to the family, it was very eye opening. They were not homeless, but they live in conditions that I considered very bad. The parents were happy to have something for their kids for Christmas. I expected to feel Joy from the exercise. Instead I have become very concerned about their living conditions. I’ve reconciled (rationalized?) that perhaps this is part of the journey for me.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Wow Joe! It sounds like you’ve found your calling. Please keep in touch with what you decide to do next. Congrats – some people wonder what they are supposed to do in the world their whole life. You know!

  9. maryann says

    This is difficult for me.

    I do give regularly to our church food pantry, whatever they are requesting at the time- soups, diapers, etc. And we always give through the numerous drives at the childrens’ parochial school.

    But I have a hard time giving to strangers who say they want money to buy food. They never ask for the food, always the money.

    The other day I was at Subways and a man in a wheelchair was negotiating with a customer inside. The customer bought him a bowl of soup and the man was eating. Then he turned to me to ask for money to buy a meal later in the day.

    I hate that. I don’t even know if the man was homeless or not, or needed the wheelchair or not, or was probably going the use the money for alchohol or drugs. I feel like I’m being conned, but I also feel guilty.

    I’m sorry this is a long post, but the whole thing bothers me & I’m not really sure what’s the right thing to do…

    • Courtney Carver says

      Maryann, I think this is a common response and not something you should feel guilty about. I do think it is important not to confuse feeling guilty with feeling uncomfortable.

      You will figure out the right thing to do. It may continuing to support your church food pantry. Maybe there are other ways to help within that organization? There may also come a time when someone hungry speaks to your heart and you trust that giving food or money is the right thing to do. Be open to that possibility and keep giving where your hear tells you to give.

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

  10. says

    Hey Courtney,
    I love the idea of making sandwiches and bringing them to the park. I used to participate in Food Not Bombs in my area yet lately I have been lacking in my drive to help others. I think it would be great if the next time my husband and I get a meal together we made a little bit extra and took our 4mo old with us to go feed a few other people. Then they can get the joy of a baby and a full belly while she learns that even though her mommy and daddy may only be able to afford one to two meals a day we still have more than others and are gratfeul for what we do have. What an amazing lesson this or paying for a meal for someone else who is hungry would teach our kids! I’ve also been thinking about volunteering at the soup kitchen during the holidays (Yule in my case) instead of buying gifts and making that our new tradition. Thank you for reminding me that even though my belly is hungry I still have enough food in the house for at least one meal a day.

  11. naresh says

    Courtney, i came across your articles from zen habits yesterday.i am from India and i appreciate your way of living and teaching.thank you.

  12. says

    I saw a lonely, unshaven man sitting in a corner of the bar as darkness fell yesterday whom no-one was talking to. He was actually a local but had become a stranger – he had a small house but no ‘home’… because the furniture had been sold off, and neither electricity nor running water which had been disconnected by the council some months ago.

    I bought him a coffee… and later gave him a just purchased box of Christmas night-lite candles which were covered in gold glitter. He handled the candles gratefully because they were going to be his only night-time illumination over the festive period.

    But here’s the rub… the gold glitter from the candles had stuck to his fingers… and then to his stubbly whiskered chin and cheeks… which caused others in the bar to react with pointing, then smiles and laughter, which was followed by lots of chatting… and several glasses of Cardinal (red wine with a dash of Cassis) well into the late evening. Eventually he went off to his cold empty room… but having found several new friends he must have felt much warmer inside.

  13. says


    Christmas is always a time for consuming, that is the problem I think. Most people only want to buy things, and think (play with words, right?) that makes them lucky. But badly that is wrong!

    You have to find a way to get nonhungry for emotional things. Love a such an important think for us. Without love I think it gets very hard. And do you know, you can love yourself! Be patient with you! Thats all and life and Christmas will get your friend!

    I am a german guy, so perhaps there are some things not so understandable, okay? Thank you for you patience! 😉

    Ah before I forget Merry Christmas to you and your family

  14. says

    Hi Courtney

    I came across your blog through Zen Habits which I subscribe to and now I’ve subscribed to your blog too. So much of what you say resonates with me. I admire you for making so many profound changes motivated by your situation with MS and it’s so inspiring to read of the benefits. I started my blog http://changechallenges.net/ to avoid getting into a middle-age rut and comfort zone. So far so good! I think most people would benefit from shaking up their lives a bit – whether they have to or not! All good wishes to you – and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  15. Jacki Dixon says

    I too donate food & clothing items throughout the year to my church’s basket which goes to a local organization that helps needy people. Last year I bought Chick-Fil-A gift cards & when approached by a person asking for food or one standing by a freeway exit (how dangerous is that?) I rolled down the car window & handed them a $10 gift card. I think Chick-Fil-A has the most nutritios food of any fast-food restaurant, the only one where I eat, plus is very clean & the staff is so polite. Hopefully the people I gave the cards to were able to get a healthy meal. This was not my idea. A woman at my church shared that she does it, so I started doing it. It made me feel happy inside. I have thought every year about helping serve a holiday meal at a soup kitchen. I didn’t do it this year but maybe I will next year & a new tradition will begin. I saw an article about your simplified life in the Atlanta Journal Constitution yesterday, Dec. 25. I noticed that you live in Utah. We lived in Bountiful, Utah from 1987 to 1990. Great snow & skiing there. Yesterday we had our first white Christmas in Atlanta since 1882!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Jacki, I have a great friend that lives just outside of Atlanta and she was so excited about the snow. Thanks for mentioning where you heard about me and for sharing your awesome idea!

  16. Susan says

    I read an article in the Houston Chronicle that included your website and because I am going through a cathartic period in my life right now, the idea of uncluttering, simplifying, and being content with what I have resonated with me. I need to embrace William Morris’s concept “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” My life has become complicated and I’ve collected too many needless things and I should think more about how I can make better use of my money, such as helping others. One way I’ve tried to help is to “adopt” several economically disadvantaged students at my school each year and especially at Christmas. I have begun purging and donating car loads of items to local charity thrift stores which I hope will ease the lives of poor families. Thanks for the message and to all the others who have responded with new ideas that I can use.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Susan, Please stay in touch and let me know how your uncluttering process goes. I find the less I have, the less I want and the more time I have to give.

  17. says

    Love this post. Giving someone time, and something they need like food, is the best thing to do this season. The simple act of feeding someone, as you said, literally or emotionally, is the best gift of all. I recently went on a food drive outreach; I actually wrote about it in my zen blog, teenagezen.blogspot.com. It made my Christmas season. I had never felt so emotionally accomplished. Great post!

  18. says

    All too often we are quick to complain when something doesn’t go our way, or when someone offends us.
    We should put more effort into being quick to compliment and thank and show our appreciation.
    Instead of focussing our efforts onto the negative, we should seek out the positive, and then focus our attention and the attention of others onto that.

  19. Julia Boyd says

    Instead of giving cash to homeless, I purchase fast food gift cards in small increments $5 $10 and pass them out to the homeless when I see them. This way I know they are getting something to eat.

  20. says

    Hello Courtney, I like the fact that your post points out that there are more than one ways to feed someone. My personal way to care for someone who is going through tough times is to prepare and deliver a wonderful complete meal. I am painfully aware of all the hungry people on our planet, know that it’s a solvable problem, and get frustrated that we are not solving it fast enough. “No Kid Hungry” and “Feeding America” are two excellent organizations that are trying to solve it in the US.