HVSD’s Healthy Eating Resource Operation (HERO) program was established early in our organization’s history in response to veterans coming into our Outreach offices hungry, even malnourished, from days without a wholesome meal. While they were motivated to get off the streets, their energy stores were depleted, and as a result, they had trouble concentrating during intake and processing their emotions.
The HERO program provides healthy, balanced lunches for our veterans that are both nutritious and delicious. Each bag includes a sandwich, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a snack. Lunches are available at our offices any time during the week, including intake hours. Sometimes we eat together as a way to connect and build trust, and other times we offer lunches to go. We even encourage our veterans to take an extra lunch or two with them so they can maintain their health and well-being while still on the streets.
There are laws in place that prevent us from going out on the streets and “feeding the homeless,” so this program allows us to get sustenance to our veterans without getting HVSD staff in trouble. Each week, we give out dozens of lunches to our homeless veteran community, topping 500 meals in the past year alone. In addition, HERO-program volunteers assemble and distribute boxes of non-perishables items, procured through food drives, for our veterans.