One Sandwich at a Time: One Woman’s Idea Made the World a Better Place

Meet the woman who is making an assiduous effort to feed the hungry in New York City and beyond with her sandwich making charity, One Sandwich at a Time: Erin Dinan, founder of the nonprofit, aims to alleviate hunger to those in need. To date, One Sandwich at a Time has fed over 500,000 New Yorkers.

Dinan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Auburn University and her Master of Public Administration from Harvard University Kennedy School. She successfully has ventured throughout 31 countries; teaching in East Africa, traveling Europe and Asia, and circumnavigating the globe in 11 days. Since the inception in September 2011, One Sandwich at a Time has gained acclaim from The Boston Globe, The United Nations, The Today Show, New York Live, NY1 News, NPR Radio, Godiva Chocolate, and more. Dinan was also recognized in 2012 at the United Nations for World Humanitarian Day where Anderson Cooper and Beyonce made an appearance at the ceremony honoring her charity.

The nonprofit amid a global pandemic still remains strong along with Dinan’s persistence to bring awareness about homelessness to the public, and devotion to her worthy cause. Dinan sat down with Beauty News NYC to answer a few questions about her charity and how you can help.

How did you start One Sandwich at a Time? 

I shared a sandwich with a man in the Grand Central train station on my way home to catch the last train out for the night. I became inspired from that moment because I will always remember the look of gratitude that man had from receiving a sandwich. I began packing sandwiches with me and giving to those on the streets of NYC as a way to let each person know they were seen and cared for. My dear friend George Kontogiannis had the idea to file for our 501c3 and create a nonprofit. He even thought of the name, One Sandwich at a Time.We partner with schools, companies and our community to organize sandwich making events.

What was your inspiration? 

That man was my inspiration and also God and my family. This actually all started from a prayer I said while my mother was facing a health challenge. I prayed for guidance and purpose. I was practicing photography and my sister gave me the idea to use my “camera as a tool for change” and was going to create a photojournalism project about homelessness in NYC. One thing led to another and here we are!

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic you are still making sandwiches for the homeless. Could you please elaborate more? 

Yes, thank you. A few of our partner organizations are providing grab and go lunches, as they are unable to provide sit-down meals for their recipients. Sandwiches are an ideal item for their brown bag lunches/breakfast items. Since we cannot gather together with our current situation, we are asking volunteers to support us in one of three ways:

1. join our #100PBJChallenge to make sandwiches in their homes for those in need. If they do that, we are requiring them to first reach out to us, as we will need to go over food safety, protocol, etc.
2. Donate financially or help us find a bread/supply donor.
3. Spread our message of kindness, compassion, and the power we can create with our two hands.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know? 

We are all connected in this world. We are all brothers and sisters in this life. We have the ability to create change with our own two hands. Please contact us! 

To learn more about One Sandwich at a Time and get involved check out or contact the nonprofit on social media. The accounts for Facebook and Instagram are @OneSandwichataTime and Twitter is @OneSandwichataT. You can also email at