A Welcome Delivery : Messenger Service Workers Give Meals to the Homeless While on Courier Routes


Courier Bret Nelson, hurrying to his next delivery, was leaving the San Diego Freeway in Sherman Oaks when he spotted a homeless man at the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign asking for food.

Nelson, with American Flyer Messenger Service, pulled over, stopped, rolled down the window and handed the man a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“One meal means a lot to somebody,” said Ron Bell as he bit into his unexpected feast amid bustling traffic and the thick odor of exhaust fumes. “I’ve been sitting here for three hours starving.”


Every Wednesday, Nelson and other employees of American have no difficulty distributing all the 100 lunch sacks they have prepared for the hungry people they encounter on their business rounds.

“Every time I get off a freeway exit ramp there’s always somebody there to give a lunch to,” Nelson said. “I don’t even have to get out of my car.”

Darren Ross, spokesman for the Sherman Oaks-based service, said he came up with the idea of distributing meals to the homeless after being approached often for food and money when he was a courier.

“I always saw hungry people on the street and was tired of giving them money,” Ross said. “I thought this would be a good way for people to help each other.”

The idea became a reality last year when the firm agreed to pitch in $80 a week to buy enough groceries to make 100 lunches. Employees take turns Tuesday nights volunteering their time to make the sandwiches and pack them in brown bags along with wheat crackers, juice, an apple and a lollipop.

On Wednesday mornings, the brown paper bags clutter the counter at American’s main office. Company messengers grab about six lunches each and give them to homeless people they see while picking up and delivering packages.


Ross said he hopes that by the end of the year his company will be distributing 1,000 lunches a week. To accomplish that goal, Ross said flyers were sent out Monday with billing statements alerting customers that American Flyer messengers will pick up sack lunches or food donations and distribute them free of charge to the homeless.

Two businesses have already called to offer donations of bread and peanut butter, Ross said.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to help out,” Ross said. “When I’ve delivered lunches to the homeless I’ve had people cry tears.”