Tony Harrison has been cooking up holiday meals for homeless Baltimoreans for years. However, he’s hoping to expand on that tradition this December by making enough delicious BBQ to feed hundreds of Baltimore’s homeless veterans ahead of Christmas weekend.
Harrison currently operates the Jurasic Pork food truck, a BBQ joint on wheels that travels around the city selling slow-cooked meats and other side dishes. Just over a week ago, Jurasic Pork launched a fundraiser with a goal to collect $2,500. With that money, the food truck’s culinary team plans to make massive quantities of ribs, fried chicken, smoked turkey, cornbread and brownies. Their hope is to be able to fill the bellies of at least 250 homeless vets at a special meal at the Maryland Center For Veterans Education & Training. So far, they’ve raised $1,425, according to their GoFundMe page.
Harrison said they decided to hold a fundraiser so they could reach more hungry vets than they ever could in past years, when they would rely on their own money. “It’s kind of taking on a little bit of a life of its own and gotten bigger. We wanted to do more,” he said, adding, “We’ve done a holiday meal for years, we’ve just never asked for any help from the community, nor publicized it.”
Harrison has been a longtime advocate for the city’s homeless population. He founded the halfway house program Changing Directions in 2001 and worked with past mayoral administrations on homeless housing outreach efforts. Presently, he serves as a consultant and mentor for Man Up! Recovery House, where his former business partner, Adrian Snead, is the executive director. (Snead is also involved in the Jurasic Pork enterprise.)
Harrison knows a thing or two about his audience’s circumstances, having spent time living on the streets and as an inmate in the Maryland prison system for a decade. Fortunately, he escaped those circumstances and found his way into the business of food outside of his advocacy work for the homeless. He previously owned the now-closed Midtown BBQ and Brew restaurant in Mt. Vernon and currently operates Jurasic Pork with Snead and the rest of their team.
According to the food truck’s Facebook page, they specialize in “in homemade, slow-smoked, locally raised, hormone-free BBQ that is quick, convenient and delicious.”
The Jurasic Pork crew will be hosting their meal for veterans at the Maryland Center For Veterans Education & Training (MCVET), located at 301 N. High Street, at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 23. Any money that doesn’t go toward the meal will be redirected to specific housing programs for at-risk veterans, Harrison said.
The holidays are an especially important time for homeless outreach, Harrison noted. “There’s a moment when you can reach someone with a full belly on a holiday, where you can do some work that you might never get a chance to again,” he said.
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