Texas State ENACTUS students are giving back to the Austin area community through a partnership with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, an organization geared at serving the homeless community through a number of innovative “micro-enterprises.”
Mobile Loaves and Fishes started in 1998 as a food truck catering to the homeless on the streets of Austin.
Now the program has expanded to include a housing community and outlets through which their homeless patrons have sources of employment as well as outlets of creative expression through the Art House and Workshop projects, where they can make a dignified living doing work that they enjoy, whether they are crafting a chair with their hands or selling original artwork.
“The point is to try and circumvent the working world that we live in,” said Evan Wilson, Mobile Loaves and Fishes workshop director. “And to not have to go back to the 9 to 5 they never fit into.”
That’s where Enactus comes in.
Enactus is an international organization that assembles teams of university business students to engage in entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need, and it just so happens that the Texas State chapter is one of the best in the world.
These teams put together projects and then compete with them every year in hopes of winning the Enactus World Cup, and Texas State won that title last year with Mobile Loaves as one of their featured projects.
So what do they do?
Last year over 30 Texas State Enactus students assisted with Street Treats, where the homeless get an opportunity to be employed in customer service selling snacks and cool drinks at events like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. The students taught the homeless the basic marketing skills they would need to be successful.
“Were there to teach them but were also there to work hand-in-hand with them,” said Lakota Campbell, who is currently an Enactus executive committee officer.
For their future plans, Mobile Loaves wants to build less “mobile” enterprises and instead is leaning toward permanent fixtures in the Austin community.
In the next incarnation of “Street Treats,” there will be a fully functioning kitchen in downtown Austin, and the homeless will receive further training including improv-comedy lessons that add an artisanal flair to their craft.
Mobile Loaves is also building an idyllic, alternative community on property east of Austin; complete with permanent homes in the form of RV’s and “Tiny Houses” for around $200 a month, a garden, greenhouse area, sanctuary, a workshop that will provide employment to some residents, and contributions from H-E-B and Alamo Drafthouse in the form of a small grocery center and outdoor movie theatre.
“We’ere basically building an alternative economy where you can make an honest living carving wooden spoons,” said Wilson.
Enactus students helped build two of the houses, tended the garden, and have a continued relationship with Mobile Loaves that includes plans for future contributions, so be on the lookout for more to come from this great partnership.
To find out more about Mobile Loaves and fishes, visit their website at http://mlf.org/