Phoenix squatter Gonzo talks urban survival and scavenging for food

Phoenix Uncut met up with travelers and squatters on the streets of downtown Phoenix. Hear what Gonzo had to say about finding a meal each day.

Although he admits that heckling passerby for food can be difficult, 24-year-old traveler and squatter “Gonzo” isn’t concerned about going hungry.

“People think homeless people are starving or something,” Gonzo said, “they’re not starving, they’re ‘spanging’ (asking for spare change) for beer. They can get your food out of a dumpster.”

Gonzo’s transient lifestyle isn’t for everyone. He mentions that a portion of the homeless population is “too lazy” to scavenge. But Gonzo survives on leftovers and thrown-out food. He leads the Phoenix Uncut team behind a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches restaurant, where he rips open a plastic bag of day-old bread.

“If the U.K. and the U.S. just combined forces and took all their food that was still good that they were going to throw away, and gave it away to the homeless and the hungry people in the world, world hunger would be over with,” Gonzo said. He breaks off a piece of bread and tosses it into the parking lot.

Even as a vegetarian, Gonzo finds enough leftover food on the streets. Pizza and sandwich joints provide more than enough food when strangers won’t. If he finds leftover pizza, he’ll pick off the meat.

“I’ve got a friend who’s homeless and vegan, and I don’t know how he does it. He just eats hot Takis and Oreos all day,” Gonzo said.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 36 million tons of food goes to waste each year. Volunteer groups like Waste Not, Want Not and WRAP aim to combat wastefulness by redirecting food to those in need.


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