Shawn Dekay and Flow Johnson are both owners of creative spaces in Milwaukee. Dekay owns Dream Lab, a café and studio located on 5th and National and Johnson owns After Gallery in Riverwest. Together, the duo gathered volunteers in Milwaukee to participate in #HashtagLunchbag, a national movement to end hunger, one brown paper bag lunch at a time.
Listen to the audio story below to pass out lunches with Milwaukee’s volunteers.
Flow and Shawn show off their lunchbags at Dream Lab Studio
#HashtagLunchbag was started by a group of friends in Los Angeles in 2012. While seeking out opportunities to volunteer in their community and coming up short, the group decided to create their own volunteer experience, as noted on the organization’s website.
The experience is quite simple: pack as many bagged lunches as you’d like, or can afford to, decorate the bags with inspirational quotes and images and hand them out to people in need around your neighborhood. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the gesture that made the volunteer experience turn into a nationwide movement.
People around the country are welcome to host an event in their community where they participate fully in the #HashtagLunchbag experience. That’s how Johnson and Dekay became involved.
In the Dream Lab café, the volunteers were split into two groups. On one side of the room, volunteers were in assembly line formation as they made ham and cheese sandwiches and stuffed bags with ice-cold water bottles and a variety of extra snacks.
Across from those packing lunches, were the artists: Shawn, Flow and a group of children. Together they drew pictures ranging from smiley faces to outdoor scenic images. Shawna, a hip-hop fan, wrote lyrics from famous hip-hop songs in a vibrant graffiti style.
The group filled boxes with dozens of lunches. They visited areas frequented by Milwaukee’s homeless population such as the downtown public library and the Amtrak bus and train station. They left lunches outside of tents under highway overpasses. The duo hope to participate in #HashtagLunchbag monthly.
If you’re interested in hosting your own #HashtagLunchbag experience, visit the official website here.