by Judi Romaine
Hunger2Help grew out of a dad’s commitment for his son to discover a sense of appreciation for life. In 2010 Michael Johnson created Hunger2Help, an organization whose mission is to ‘Help Nourish the Spirit of the Homeless People Living on the Streets of San Diego County by providing Hot Food, Water & Items of Comfort.’
Michael and his son, along with some of his son’s friends, began to get together every Sunday, make burritos and distribute them throughout their community. Soon they began to be known as The Burrito Boys. The project began to expand when one of the boys saw a homeless man give his burrito to his dog. From then on, the boys decided to bring dog food for the homeless dogs as well. As each Sunday passed, the boys got more and more involved and organized to make the program work better—and they were having fun.
The project was going very well when in January of 2011 Michael Johnson took The Landmark Forum, followed by the Advanced Course. Then in March, Michael did Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership Program and Hunger2Help really took off.
Michael himself had been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it took for him to manage and grow H2H. In the SELP, he knew that the he wanted H2H to grow bigger and be duplicated, and that he could enlist the parents of the boys along with other friends and acquaintance in this project using the tools and distinctions from the program.
From that point, word began to spread rapidly in the community about the Burrito Boys and Hunger2Help. A friend contacted the media and several stories stories were done at local TV stations and newspapers. Then came National interviews with CBS Evening News and Dr. Drew on Call. And, today, it continues to grow.
So far over 25,000 burritos have been distributed, along with novels, water, dog food, books, toiletries, rain tarps, clothes, shoes, and backpacks for the homeless. The boys work on getting donations all the time, having done 116 Sundays in a row. At a board meeting early in 2012 the seven boys talked about expanding the program as they graduated from eighth grade to high school and they enlisted a group of Girl Scouts to relieve them one Sunday a month. Those Girl Scouts are now called the Burrito Babes, preparing and distributing the burritos once a month as well as other performing other acts of generosity like gathering and distributing 400 blankets to to the homeless prior to winter.
Michael’s dream for Hunger2Help was to have the project copied by other communities and that has happened. H2H is now getting calls from many states around the country and places as far away as Haiti and Australia, wanting to know how to start similar programs in their communities. Michael tells these interested groups to take that first step by getting into action and model their programs in a way that works for their communities.
With all the success of Hunter2Help, the expected outcome of the project was watching his son and friends discover the joy of contributing to others, harnessing their abilities to empower other kids, and causing young leaders everywhere. In doing this, H2H and The Burrito Boys are a model of the difference kids can do in the world.