What’s Up South Texas!: Teens create website, non-profit to combat hunger

Dream Donations has served hundreds of meals and raised thousands of dollars since its launch

San Antonio – Two teens have spent their time in quarantine launching a website and non-profit dedicated to providing restaurant food to those in need.

Rishabh Jain, 16, and Aruj Khater, 15, said this idea started about a year and a half ago.

“We were going to an event downtown and on the way we saw some homeless people,” Jain said. “He was hungry and we wanted to give them something but all we had in the car was a banana. That is all we could give them.”

He said that is when a light bulb went off.

“There is so many people that live like this every single day and we wanted to do something about it,” Jain said. “We took the initiative to find out how we could provide for them, specifically in terms of food.”

After doing their research, the two realized the amount of food restaurants throw away is significant everyday.

“We thought if there was a way to take the food waste and reduce that with giving that food to the homeless people, that would get two things done in one,” Jain said.

They said they began talking to restaurants to see if they had excess food so they could provide to homeless people. Specifically, they were talking to Subway.

“They have bread they have to throw away everyday because every morning they make fresh bread,” Jain said. “We would take that bread to different homeless shelters. We would make three to four runs with forty to fifty breads.”

When the pandemic struck, that didn’t stop the boys from continuing their mission.

“We wanted to continue to provide for the homeless and thought we could give money to restaurants so they could continue to thrive and provide for the homeless. So we contacted some that were working with us and they say they would be able to do discounted meals. So, we could provide and fundraise for them at a lower cost while still providing for the homeless like before.”

They made their own non-profit, called Dream Donations, as well as a website, www.dreamdonations.org.

“On the website, we present all the restaurants working with us,” Jain said. “We also give an option for people to donate.”

Since the launch, Dream Donations has raised over $2,000 and has provided over 500 meals.

“The desire to help others like this started when we went to India and the slums there and gave out a lot of food,” Khater said. “We saw how their faces got brighter as soon as we gave them more food because they weren’t starving anymore.”

They said being able to feed so many people from all walks of life is a humbling experience for both of them.

“It made me realize that I live a very privileged life,” Khater said. “I have everything that I need and is provided to me and I realize all these people don’t have all of these things, so that is like one major take away for me.”

“It is just incredible to see like where they come from and how much pain and things they go through and that little bit of food brings them so much happiness and creates joy and smile on their faces,” Jain said.

The two teens said they are looking to expand this project.

“We hope to partner with more restaurants and donate more food,” Khater said. “We also want to partner with more ministries and homeless shelters.”

They are also launching an app, which will enable recipients to request food and a restaurant to access the request. Also, a transporter would be able to volunteer to pick up and deliver all through the app.

“We would love for more restaurants to participate,” Jain said. “We need more volunteers and of course donors. People should understand the age shouldn’t matter. Regardless of your age, you should be able to do things you might not even think of.”

If you know someone like Jain and Khater who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

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About the Authors

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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