San Francisco woman on mission to deliver free pizza to homeless people

Byby Juan Carlos Guerrero KGO logo
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Pizza delivery for homeless people
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Andrea Carla Michaels hands out a slice of pizza to a homeless man on Polk Street in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Andrea Carla Michaels didn't think she would be delivering pizza.

Michaels is a writer and crossword puzzle creator in San Francisco, but her life took an unexpected turn a few years ago when she went to get some pizza.

She went into Nob Hill Pizza and Shawarma and noticed they were tossing unsold pizza slices into the compost.

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"I was like, 'What are you doing,'" said Michaels, who remembered being astonished by what she saw. She asked the owners if she could take the unsold pizza and give it to homeless people. The owners, Yazid Belayadi and Najet Sehili, agreed.

"When she came in and asked for the pizza, it is normal for me," said Sehili, who is Muslim. "In our religion, we have to help poor people, so it is part of me."

Sehili says health regulations require they dispose of pizza that has gone unsold for several hours. She now saves unsold slices for Michaels to reheat and deliver to homeless people along the Polk Gulch area.

Michaels has returned every day since then to the California Street pizzeria. She grabs the slices the owners set aside and reheats them in the oven. She then boxes them up and begins walking along Polk Street and its adjoining alleys.

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She stops within a few blocks and hands a slice of warm pizza to a lady in a wheelchair. She does not shy away from areas many people avoid, like alleys. She sees one man lying against a wall and walks up to him to offer him a pizza slice. He thanks her.

"My philosophy is food first," said Michaels as she continued walking the area. "If you eat, you can think. And if you can think, then you can get help or you can feel less desperate or find a safer place to sleep."

Michaels has been delivering pizzas to homeless people for more than two years now. She can't stand to think people will go hungry, so she picks up leftover pizza every day and makes the rounds on her own. She does not do it as part of a charitable organization or volunteer program.

She has gotten to know the homeless people in her area and considers them neighbors.

"There was a lot of talk about how San Francisco has become haves and have-nots," said Michaels. She has adopted the idea and uses "nots" as an acronym for "Neighbors On The Street" (NOTS). She hopes that helps to humanize people without a home.

"These people you are walking past are actually your neighbors. They live there. They are sleeping there. They are eating there. They are neighbors that need help," adds Michaels. "And I don't think there is anyone who is not willing to help a neighbor."

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