Thousands making sandwiches for hungry and homeless

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Helping someone in need can be as simple as making a sandwich.

Thousands of volunteers in metro Atlanta have done just that, slapping together turkey and cheese in their home kitchens for The Sandwich Project.

Every week, The Sandwich Project gives away 4,000 to 6,000 homemade sandwiches, plus protein bars and fruit, to nonprofits for distribution for those who are homeless or food insecure.

The sandwiches are thick, hearty enough for a meal. “It’s amazing how good they are,” says Tracy Thompson, director of the Elizabeth Foundation, helping Atlanta’s homeless encampments. She gives them out every Thursday after they come to her in coolers.

“This is something I don’t have the time or financial resources to do. It’s been a huge blessing.”

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Jennifer Barnes of the food pantry Solidarity Sandy Springs, said she is able to give families whole loaf bags filled sandwiches.

“The people love it,” said Barnes, “especially the kids. The comments we get and the feedback is just fabulous about how delicious the sandwiches are. They’ve definitely helped feed our neighbors.”

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Making a sandwich is an effortless way to give back and something anyone can do, said Lisa Hiles, one of the group’s founders. Hiles and Marcy Louza, both of Dunwoody, started making sandwiches for a downtown church homeless ministry in April 2020.

Others joined their efforts, and a core group was giving more than 2,000 sandwiches each week, more than the church could handle. Instead of slowing down, they searched out nonprofits to give out the food.

CHRIS 180, a United Way partner organization, had just started a food delivery program and needed the sandwiches. The Project began supplying them with thousands of sandwiches.

“The Sandwich Project means a lot to those on the streets,” said Les Canty, CHRIS 180 Westside Outreach Coordinator Les Canty, who distributes the food in Atlanta’s homeless encampments. “Because of this project, those who are experiencing homelessness in this area are getting a fresh meal.”

The Sandwich Project has given away more than 250,000 homemade sandwiches, having reached that milestone in October, and attracted thousands of sandwich makers and deliverers across the metro. The core group is still involved.

The project grew organically, friend telling friend, then really took off when one of the founders, Danielle Cohen of east Cobb, posted it on a few neighborhood social media sites. She said neighbors packed her two refrigerators full with sandwiches.

From the beginning, families were pleased to have a service project they could do together as COVID restrictions limited volunteer opportunities. It’s caught on with school groups, scouts, book clubs and others looking for a way to help.

“It’s rewarding,” said Hiles, “you not only give the gift of time to make it, but the sandwich literally goes from your hand to the mouth of those who need it.

The process is straightforward: white bread, deli meat and cheese. Each sandwich is sealed in a Ziplock bag and placed back inside the bread bag.

There is no sign-up sheet. Some faithfully fill a bag or two of bread loaves each week; others make a big batch of sandwiches sporadically.

“People are amazing when you ask them to do something,” Louza said. She said a huge amount of fruit and protein bars are also donated each week.

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Louza said The Sandwich Project is reaching small nonprofits without much money, and is helping to pull together organizations to better serve those in need.

“I’ve always felt that we should not have homelessness and food insecurity in such a wealthy country. It seems built into our economy, and I don’t necessarily see a way out of it, but I want to do all I can to help,” Louza said.

Hiles said there is no goal for The Sandwich Project other than to keep going. “We’re going to take the next right step,” she said. “If there’s demand and more people to do it, we’ll continue.”


Join the effort in making sandwiches weekly, or whenever you can.

Instructions for preparing, packaging and delivering the sandwiches are available from

Sandwiches should be made with high-quality ingredients — white bread, deli turkey and cheese — and hearty enough to be a meal.

Sandwich collection sites are in Buckhead, Intown, Decatur, North Fulton, Dunwoody, East Cobb/Marietta, Peachtree Corners/Norcross. More are being added.

More information available on Facebook: