Paying it forward is something that’s in Jaden Smith’s genes. He played an instrumental role in the JUSTwater campaign, helping provide clean drinking water to the residents of Flint, Michigan.
Then, to commemorate his 21st birthday two years ago, the rapper/actor launched the I Love You Restaurant, a vegan food truck initiative to combat food insecurity for Los Angeles’ homeless.
“Our mission is to spread love to communities experiencing food and/or housing insecurity by offering water along with fresh, high-quality, and delicious sustainable meal options,” his food website explains.
Smith’s vegan meals found their way to 8,000 of L.A.’s Skid Row residents. Eventually, I Love You’s efforts were expanded to serve at-risk residents in Harley, New York City.
“[We were] not able to actually get our food truck down to Skid Row and physically hand it out to people for obvious reasons,” he told COMPLEX. “You’re thinking about everything happening with COVID-19 and people having to stay home and all this stuff. Well, if you’re homeless, you can’t stay home… So we’ve been donating… everything that we can… vegan food, masks, clothes, hand sanitizer, and all different types of things.”
Although normal is still a way off, Smith is pivoting his I Love You concept yet again. With plans for a more permanent, non-rolling version of his restaurant on the table, Smith is parlaying the success of his past efforts into the next phase.
The “pay as you can” philosophy on which the new endeavor is based takes a page from the venerable drive-through feel-good tradition of paying not only for your own eats but for those of the occupant in the following car as well—only Smith is taking the feel-good one step further.
While anyone will be welcome to partake of the yet-to-be-announced location’s fare, those who can afford the suggested menu prices will be in effect subsidizing meals for those who can’t.
“It’s for homeless people to get free food,” Smith told Variety. “But if you’re not homeless, not only do you have to pay, but you have to pay for more than the food’s worth so that you can pay for the person behind you.”
It sure sounds like a great way to serve up some good karma to us, but we were just wondering… Can we get vegan fries with that?