Austin's Homeless to Sell 'Street Treats' During SXSW

Mar 6, 2013

Homeless people will be selling coffee, snacks and ice cream from push carts during South by Southwest. The local non-profit Mobile Loaves and Fishes is running the program. They call it Street Treats. (Not to be confused with this food truck that bears the same name.)

“We wanted to create a dignifying opportunity for these men and women to earn an income. We’re able to put them in a uniform, and they look really clean and presentable to the community," said Stephanie Asmus with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. She says this is the second year of their program.

"Then they’re sitting there selling Blue Bell ice cream or a cup of coffee so that they can work themselves off the street and into a home," she said. 

Street Treats will cost one dollar, and the homeless vendors will get to keep all the profits, which amount to about 50 cents per item. Mobile Loaves and Fishes is donating the cost of the carts, permits and uniforms. 

Last year, a project to get entrepreneurial homeless people selling WiFi internet access attracted international controversy. The so-called "Homeless Hotspots" were set up by a New York City advertising company BBH Labs.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes, an Austin-based homeless service provider, will officially launch its program Sunday, March 10 at the State Capitol. You can find locations of vendors by following @StreetTreatsATX on Twitter.