Shih-Ming Li Chang, associate professor of dance, has another passion: helping those less fortunate. Chang moves a food cart around the Columbus area to raise money to feed people who are homeless and hungry.
Chang runs her food cart around Columbus and has a tip jar to collect funds for her project, The Tip Jar Hope Ministry. Every $100 the tip jar gets, Chang buys food, used clothes and toys to give to the homeless.
“We take [these items] to the low-income families and cook for them for free,” Chang said.
She sends an email to the customers who donate to alert them when she does what she calls a “street feast,” in which she prepares food and gathers items for the homeless, and welcomes churches and volunteers to come and bring items or minister to those in need. She takes her food cart around Columbus every other day during the summer months, and every Friday during the school year. She leaves Saturdays and Sundays open for Tip Jar Ministry purposes.
Chang, a Christian woman, said she was inspired by verse 10 from chapter eight of Nehemiah in the King James Bible version, which says, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
A friend prophesied about this verse, and it stuck with her, motivating her to serve those who had no portions. She prepares Asian-inspired foods for them, and is planning to expand her culinary repertoire, including food stamp-recipe dishes, so she can show low-income families meals they can make.
Three years ago, she decided to take professional cooking lessons, because she loved to cook and help people, and she felt that this was her way to serve God.
“I know why I’m doing this,” she said. “I want to come out and bless. To be a blesser is much more rewarding than being blessed.”
Chang wants to expand one day to have more food carts to help more people and “spread love and caring” to the homeless and low-income families.
In addition, Chang volunteers with International Friendships (IFI) in Columbus. According to the organization’s website, “IFI is a Christian community organization that works in partnership with universities and volunteers to promote friendship and hospitality for international students, scholars and family members. IFI links international students with American volunteers from local churches who are interested in cross-cultural exchange and who help meet the various practical needs internationals face in living in another culture.”
She also helps with a Columbus food pantry, and both of these projects helped her to realize what she could do for the less fortunate.
“[For the food pantry] I cook and bring food to them, and we pack it up and deliver the food to the homeless every Wednesday and Saturday,” Chang said.
Chang hopes that through her food cart and volunteer work, others will be inspired to help those in need.
“I’m not doing this for a reward….I’m so full of joy when I’m [helping those in need],” she said. “Every time when I go out, I feel this is my way of serving God.”