Jam’s Joy Bungalow offers free food twice a month

By Laura Hagar Rush, Townsy Media, January 17, 2021

From Jam's Joy Bunglow's Instagram announcement about her twice monthly free food offer.

From her perch in her tiny kitchen on the plaza, Jamilah Nixon of Jam’s Joy Bungalow has a good view of the daily struggles of Sebastopol’s homeless population, many of whom spend the day in the plaza. But she knows that these days it’s not only the homeless who are struggling financially and may be in need of a good hot meal.

Nixon has always been generous with food, offering sandwiches to those in need, but this month, she made it official by announcing that she’d be offering free food to anyone who needs it on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month between 3 and 5 pm.

On those days, she makes a big pot of something luscious and dishes it up for anyone who needs it, be they the unhoused, laid off workers or even those who she said “just need to feel that something good happened to them that day.”

In these times, that line could get pretty long.

“I live in Sebastopol, and I’m a single mom raising a daughter,” Nixon said. “If I was out of work right now or was furloughed or had a business that wasn’t doing well, I know that it would be really tough for me to make ends meet, and give her a sense of normalcy and be able to go out and kind of feel like you’re part of the community,”

She launched the first food giveaway on Christmas Day, serving gumbo and cornbread.  Then on January 12, she put out the word on social media.

The next day, roughly 25 people showed up to take her up on her offer.

She was a little disappointed in the turnout because she’d made enough food for 50— black eyed peas with chicken and andouille sausage chili with cornbread, but she realizes it may take a while for people to catch on that it’s happening.

“It’s just gonna have to grow by word of mouth,” she said. “And we have a couple guys in the homeless community that are spreading the word.”

But the food isn’t meant solely for the homeless.

“I also really want to reach out to restaurant workers and other workers that are furloughed and that are barely making ends meet or have families that they’re trying to feed,” she said.

“There’s no questions asked,” Nixon said. “We’re just offering everybody a bowl of food … and if they have a family at home, and they need three or four bowls, that’s fine too.  We’ll pack it up to go,” she said.

Though she’s not soliciting donations for this effort, she’s be happy to accept them, noting people can just leave money in the tip jar.

“We’re putting everything in there toward buying food,” she said. “All that money is being funneled back into feeding people, either when they come up and they need a sandwich, or when they come to one of these Wednesday events.”

“We have so much abundance in Sonoma County,” Nixon said, “that it’s important to recognize that not everybody in our community is thriving right now.”

jam's joy bungalow

Jam’s Joy Bungalow in Sebastopol’s downtown plaza opened in 2019. This photo was taken soon after its opening. On the right, Jamilah Nixon and her daughter at the Bungalow.  (Photo by Laura Hagar Rush)