Blog For The City

21 outstanding volunteers celebrated at BFC’s Annual Good Hope Awards


They come in all shapes and sizes, from all corners of the metro area, and all walks of life. They are lawyers, business owners, retirees, students, and everything in between. Above all, they are selfless and committed to being of service to their community. Luckily for us, Bread for the City is a part of that community!

At the 2016 Bread for the City Good Hope Awards, we honored 21 of our dedicated volunteers in fine style. The Awards, hosted at Hotel Monaco on Thursday, October 13, recognized these remarkable 18 individuals and three (3) organizations for their support to the organization over the past year.

Keynote speaker Will Jawando, highlighted the importance of dignity in working with the community and how Bread for the City embodies that in its approach to helping. He spoke of his own childhood experience of growing up and depending on the support of organizations like BFC. His message was powerful resonated with the audience.


Hawkin’s award was accepted posthumously by friend Mike Hopkins.

Recently, Bread for the City lost one of our own, Ms. Dorothy Hawkins. A special award was presented posthumously to the former board member for her outstanding dedication to Bread for the City in executing our mission to help people. This award will henceforth be named in Hawkins’ honor and presented annually to an outstanding board member.



Join us in congratulating these outstanding Bread for the City volunteers:

LEGAL – Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis



SE SOCIAL SERVICES – Richael Faithful



FINANCE – Esther Kim


Esther’s award was accepted in her absence by Ally Blaine (pictured).





SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE – Barbara Flint & Willnet Stokes



NW FOOD PANTRY – Wayne Gardner



SE FOOD PANTRY – Yahweh Outreach International





ADVOCACY – Client Organizers: Nicole Baker, Lark Catoe-Emerson, Charles Crews, Vielka Downer, Marilyn Harris, Robert Harvey, Adrianne Hill, Rashad Johnson, Ebony Price, Taha Shabazz, Wilnett Stokes, Antoinette Williams, Schronda Williams


If you would like to support Bread for the City as a volunteer please sign up online at

Our community needs affordable housing, not more police and jails!

This post was written by Erin Shields*. Erin is a Community Organizer with Bread for the City.

On October 1st, Bread for the City clients, community members, and allies rallied outside DC General and DC Jail to demand that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District’s City Council invest more in housing than they do in police and prisons. In its current FY17 budget, DC is spending about $700 million on jails and police, compared to only $235 million on housing programs – a 3:1 ratio.


credit: Robyn Di Giacinto

Bread for the City client organizers intentionally chose the location of the rally to highlight the disparity in funding between the city’s housing and policing budgets. With a demand that Mayor Bowser “Balance the Scales”, organizers used images of Lady Liberty’s Scales of Justice to juxtapose the city’s police and housing budgets.


credit: Robyn Di Giacinto

Client organizers, all deeply impacted by housing and incarceration issues, strategized, canvassed, and prepared for weeks prior to the event. Their efforts paid off when nearly 75 people joined the rally demanding Mayor Bowser and the District’s City Council prioritize the housing needs of the city’s most vulnerable. Coming through loudly and clearly, client leaders Nkechi Feaster, Nicole Baker, Brother Rahshad Johnson, and Charles Crews connected their personal struggles to the broader demand for city investments in housing.

“The lack of housing has had a negative effect on my children,” said Nicole Baker, a Bread for the City community leader. “Housing stability would give some mental stability, which would help create a more productive and healthy environment for my children to grow with the opportunities they deserve.”

Their words were echoed by tenant leaders from Brookland Manor and members of the District’s large Ethiopian and Eritrean communities, many of whom are refugees who face additional barriers to housing and employment. Issues of affordable housing affect everyone, particularly those who have been historically marginalized in this city.

Organizers also passed out postcards for attendees to sign asking Mayor Bowser to invest more money into housing than into police and incarceration, and to attend a community meeting this December to discuss affordable housing issues specifically.

Housing is a human right, that is why we have to fight. Join Bread for the City and residents of the District living on low incomes as we demand a #Right2DC.

See coverage of the rally by WAMU here.

Stay tuned to Bread for the City’s #Right2DC campaign by following us at @BFCorganizing, or emailing us at


credit: Robyn Di Giacinto


credit: Robyn Di Giacinto











*Erin’s work is made possible in part through private funds awarded by the DC Bar Foundation.

Tons of Creativity at the Fall Craft Bazaar

For the love of creativity and supporting our budding business women, Bread for the City’s WomenStrong DC program hosts regular bazaars to help our members work on economic empowerment. At the last Fall Craft Bazaar, four of our talented WSDC women sold self-made items ranging from earrings and stretch jewelry to incense, soaps shampoos, and baked goodies.

Here are their stories:

30179990411_8195b39135_mJune: For three years, June taught sewing at Bread for the City with the WomenStrong DC program. Her grandmother taught her to bake and sew when she was 8 years old, and she thought it was important to pass on some of those skills to her colleagues. She has a master’s in Liberal Studies but it is her undergrad minor in Food and Nutrition that comes in handy when she’s making her delicious treats including cookies, brownies, and cakes. These are all her own recipes. “Who ever thought of making lemon cookies with chocolate chip and made ‘em taste right,” she says.

29634718954_a07d6bdc08_mPeggy: “It’s pretty easy to make these actually; it’s the ideas that take the longest.” Peggy has been making beaded necklaces and stretch jewelry for a while, but at the Fall Craft Bazaar, she showcased her talent at making earrings. “I’d been making them for a while actually, but then I went through a rough patch and I just kind of stopped. In talking with the ladies and being able to bounce ideas off them, I’ve been getting back on track; the energy is up, the sleeping is regular and the creativity is back.”

30149930452_e9ff9a691c_mSakinah: Sakinah makes candles, washcloth dolls, fragrances, burning oils, sugar scrubs, bath salts, shower gels and soaps. This all began with her trying to find a soap for her daughter’s eczema. “It was difficult. Hardly anything worked and if it did it was so expensive. So I started trying things myself to see if I could come up with something that was effective and affordable.” It worked, and then other people started enjoying her soap so she started vending them in 2006 and has since turned it into a small business.

30179995811_4d51252724_mStephanie: “I sew, I make bags and accessories. I take worn jeans and I make them into bags and purses.” Stephanie has been doing this for 3 years; a talent she picked up from interactions with the ladies at Women Strong DC. “I just bought a sewing machine one day and started playing around until the designs started turning out good. I also picked up a few things here and there from the senior people Women Strong.”

Take a look at the images from our Fall Craft Bazaar here: If you’re interested in purchasing any of the items we’ve reviewed, please contact Donnie at

Bread for the City’s WomenStrong DC is proud to be a consortium member of WomenStrong International (WSI), a network of organizations worldwide dedicated to empowering women and girls and to sharing what works. For more, and to learn what you can do as part of this effort, see

DC Fiscal Policy Institute speaks on DC’s Widening Racial Inequality

“As our friends at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute remind us, there is still much work to do to create an equitable and just city for all DC residents.”
-George A. Jones, CEO Bread for the City

Extracted from a letter written by Ed Lazere, Executive Director of DC Fiscal Policy Institute, the passage below highlights the widening racial inequality in Washington, DC even as the city undergoes substantial economic growth in this post-recession period. Take a quick read…

poverty-rate-2007-2015-revisedAn economic recovery is supposed to help more and more people the longer it lasts —  but that’s not happening in DC. Our economy has been rebounding since 2010, and median income has risen sharply following a nationwide trend. Yet this growth has not reduced poverty. Over 110,000 DC residents lived in poverty in 2015, according to new Census figures — that’s 18,500 more than in 2007.

The District’s Black residents are bearing the brunt of the city’s unbalanced recovery. The median income of Black DC households has not grown since 2007 and stood at just $41,000 last year – one third of the typical white household income. Black DC residents are the only racial or ethnic group to face a higher poverty rate today than before the Great Recession, with 27 percent living on less than $24,000 for a family of four.

These findings underscore that communities of color in our city suffer from a lack of opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families.

2Amidst this troubling news, there is evidence that the social safety net can have a positive impact. The share of District residents who lack health insurance fell for the second year in a row, and about 17,000 more residents had health coverage in 2015 than in 2013. This progress is thanks to Medicaid and affordable health plans offered through DC Health Link.

Our success as a city depends on opportunity for everyone. The failure to achieve that will leave us with even wider racial and economic inequality and a less stable community. However, the success of programs like Medicaid and DC Health Link proves that we have the tools to level the playing field and expand economic opportunity.

You can read DCFPI’s full analysis of the new Census income and poverty figures here.

-Ed Lazere, Executive Director of DC Fiscal Policy Institute

Triple harvest for City Orchard in August!

Tomatoes, okras, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and the beginning of apple season! That’s what August was about at City Orchard.

combo-2We’ve TRIPLED our harvest compared to the last three months, thanks to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Purple Mountain Organics who let us glean vegetables from their sections of the farm. With the decline in the production of early summer berries, our team has shifted focus to summer vegetables.

Also in August, the Sustainable Agriculture team hosted 13 orchard events with groups of 5-125 volunteers totaling over 400 volunteers, harvesting in excess of 1,500 lbs of fresh produce. This equates to over 2,100 servings of fresh, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and herbs distributed to DC residents through both of our farm to pantry operations.

combo-1Health Benefits

Berries have a low glycemic index compared to most fruits, so they’re great for fighting diabetes and regulating fluctuating blood sugar. They are also nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants.

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Apples are rich in antioxidants, flavanoids and dietary fiber… they help fight cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Sweet potato greens are rich in vitamin B, beta carotene, iron, calcium, zinc and protein, and they are particularly anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial.

img_1997-croppedDo you know any people, groups or organizations that would like meaningful volunteer work and team-building experiences? They can sign up to volunteer here.

BFC Hosts “March III” Book Signing with Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

29762840622_a43144e37d_oLast Thursday, Bread for the City had the honor of hosting Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis and author Andrew Aydin at our SE Center for a book signing of March III, the third in a series of graphic novels.

Published in August, and currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, the novel is a powerful retelling of key events from the civil rights era from Lewis’ perspective. His storied experiences are complimented by powerful illustrative works that both transfix and transport readers to the heart of the black struggle for equality. A timely book against the backdrop of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the novel is a definite must-read.

When people said things can’t change, I say come and walk in my shoes,” said the Civil Rights leader in his powerful delivery to a packed audience that included attendees from across DC, including students from Kuumba Learning Center and Higher Achievement. Lewis and Aydin shared their insights and knowledge, and encouraged the packed house to fight for freedom and equal rights.

Congressman Lewis (L) alongside George A. Jones, CEO, Bread for the City

Congressman Lewis (L) alongside George A. Jones, CEO, Bread for the City.


John Lewis book signing (The March, Book 3) at Bread for the City

Co-Author Andrew Aydin speaks at the book signing for March III










Lewis related several moving stories from his life and fight for civil rights, including one about how he cried on Election Night 2008 when Barack Obama was elected. When a friend asked him about his tears that night and how he would respond at the inauguration, he said, “If I have any tears left, I’m going to save them for the inauguration. And I did.”

Aydin, who in addition to co-authoring the book series is also Digital Director & Policy Adviser to Lewis, spoke as well. He drew laughter from the crowd when he mentioned that Lewis’ response when he suggested writing a graphic novel was to say “‘maybe’ – and if you know anything about politics, you know ‘maybe’ means no.” But Lewis was quickly convinced that the unconventional format would actually be a great way to bring his story of perseverance and activism to a younger audience.











It may seem like a small favor…

Did you know that $25 can be the difference between staying housed and experiencing homelessness? For many of our clients, a minor issue with rent or other basics can snowball into a huge problem.

Can I count on you to make a gift today to Bread for the City’s Small Favors Fund? We use this fund when the solution to a client’s problem is simple: a one-time grant to cover rent, utilities, or paying for an ID. But we’ve helped so many families this year that we’re having trouble meeting the demand, especially as children head bacsmall-favors-with-textk to school.

Will you help us grow this fund so we can help more people this fall and winter? PLUS, thanks to the generosity of a longtime donor, any gifts we receive for the Small Favors Fund will be matched up to $5,000!

By standing with us now, you will ensure that families don’t slide from stable to homeless just because of $25. It may seem like just a small favor, but to the recipient, it’s so much more.

Testimony of community organizer, Terri Acker at DCHA

The following is the testimony of community organizer, Terri Acker at a District of Columbia Housing Authority Commissioners meeting on September 14, 2016.

Hello, my name is Terri Acker and I have been a resident of subsidized housing for the majority of my adult life and I have raised 5 daughters here in the city. I am here to testify today and be the bearer of news to the residents from my experience and facts.

Being issued a Section 8 voucher in order to seek housing is in fact not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that it is packaged to look like. In fact, it will be very difficult because the help that District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) says that they will be giving you does not exist. You will have to do most if not all of the searching on your own, and if you find a place you would like to live, you will most likely have to jump through hurdles such as rental & credit history, security deposits, and amenities fees, that the landlords will use against you, so as not to have you rent their places. And those are the nice, decent places that you will want to live.

However, the slumlords will be glad to take your voucher and not do repairs and have you live in their units until you get a notice that the house is under foreclosure and you are told you have to move. This has happened to me at least three times.

The units that are being offered now also are very small and if you have a large family, they are not suitable to live in. There is no dining room or living room at all.  I had one house that looked great, only to find rats running through the living room at night. In the end, I had to have an exterminator come out and exterminate because my landlord would not and DCHA did not force them to.

Community Organizer, Terri Acker

Community Organizer, Terri Acker

The burden of moving from house to house and moving your children from neighborhood to neighborhood causes you to lose a lot of expensive furniture and have to buy it all over again. Not to mention, changing schools for your kids and the fights they may get into being the new kids. It also causes mental instability for the children. Also, the city has a limit on the amount the vouchers can pay and that won’t allow you to get the unit you need.

This money is being issued for a contractor that DCHA will not monitor to ensure that they do the things they are supposed to do like help you to find decent housing.

It’s not as easy.  I recently had a fire at my apartment and DCHA isn’t even making my landlord fix my apartment even after 5 months, and the fire was just in the living room. So I am looking for a place right now also and the help I have received from DCHA is that I was sent to a slumlord. We deserve to live in decent housing just like the people that are supposed to be helping us.

In fact, there are many residents at DC General who have been given vouchers and have been unable to find places for over six months. DCHA’s employees…do you care, for real? I told someone here at housing that I had a fire in my unit and she said she knows who I am and that I always have some drama! Does that make me any less of a person than you? Should I be homeless because of life’s twists and turns? NO! And you as a resident of public housing should not be either.

So in conclusion, being able to stay on the property while they build and move into the new units is what would be best if you really think about it. What I am saying is, do your research, ask someone, other voucher holders, think hard and long about your decision to take a voucher, it’s not as easy as it looks. In fact, it is very hard and you will receive little help from the contractors of DCHA.

And board members; please be fair to the residents. You know our city is not accepting the vouchers in the good neighborhoods and making it as hard as possible to use them to rent. Do what is right for a change! Please and thank you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (2 months late!)

On June 30th, Bread for the City wrapped up another exciting fiscal year. Because we were just too busy fighting poverty, working to end racism, growing apples, and cleaning teeth all summer, we’re just getting around to reflecting on our successes now. And since we couldn’t do any of this without your help, we decided to share! Read on to see how your support helped us accomplish so much last year.

So just how great was fiscal year 2016?

Food Program:

In FY16, we saw 15,679 unique food program clients through 75,692 food program visits. This is an increase of nearly 5% in unique clients and over 6% in visits over FY15!

Bread for the City 2015

Leonard and Donald taste some greens at our City Orchard retreat in October 2015

Additional successes in FY16 include:

  • Thanks to our supporters, we were able to start distributing five days of groceries instead of three.
  • We embedded an organizer in the urban agriculture program, who works with clients and staff at City Orchard and on our rooftop gardens.

Clothing Program:

We saw approximately 3,700 visits to the Clothing Room in FY16, and continued to offer internships to PEP graduates.

Social Services:

In FY16, we conducted 22,823 visits in our Social Services departments, including walk-ins, case management, representative payee visits, Pre-Employment Program visits, intakes/re-certification, etc.


At an Amharic HAP informational session in June 2016, we could barely find space for everyone!


Medical Clinic:

Our primary care clinic saw 2,621 unique patients through 17,679 patient visits. Plus, our dentist saw 827 patients through 1,796 patient visits – increases of 7% and 3%, respectively, and our behavioral health specialist helped 450 people address their concerns.


Our young friend Max enjoyed his first ever dentist appointment with Dr. Smyles!




Legal Clinic:

In FY16 our attorneys and legal clinic staff conducted 1,806 legal intakes, opened 782 cases, and closed 600 cases.


  • With funding from the DC Bar Foundation, we launched a one-year pilot program (including the hire of a new attorney) to help DC residents with the arduous process of getting DC government identification.
  • We now have 18 attorneys (including a Fellow and a Covington Loaned Associate).


This year, we launched an Advocacy Program – the first formal advocacy program that we have ever had. With the promotion of Aja Taylor to Advocacy Director and the hire of four new organizers (along with our existing Community Lawyering Project organizer), this program now has a staff of 6, making Bread for the City one of the largest organizing teams in DC.


  • We helped push through City Council a bill funding the Public Housing Fund – a $15M fund to preserve public housing in DC.
  • We held monthly affordable housing meetings which had seen huge turnout from clients, neighbors, and concerned community members.

WHEW! I’m tired just reading this. Thank you to all who gave of their time and treasure to make our work possible last year, and let’s make this year another one to remember!

Volunteer Spotlight

lindsay-volunteerFirst introduced to Bread for the City as a volunteer with the food pantry, Lindsay Powell has since been a committed volunteer to the mission of BFC and the FoodWays Program.

Originally from New York City, Lindsay has dedicated her academic and professional career to looking at ways to assuage issues of poverty and inequality. This passion led her to work both internationally and domestically, where this interest in food policy and hunger
alleviation grew.

Spending time as a teacher, intern, and student in South Africa, Nicaragua and Vietnam, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, she began to see how other countries used food as a connector but also the serious issues their governments faced with food distribution and nutrition. Lindsay began to make connections between her own experience in the United States with issues of access in under-served communities. Being a part of the FoodWays Program has given Lindsay the ability to positively contribute to the DC community, and she plans to continue well into the future!

“My FoodWays are rooted in a love for food and simple hospitality. I love playing host to dinner parties and sharing good conversation over real good food,”  says Lindsay.

Are you interested in volunteering at Bread for the City? Please contact our volunteer department at 202-386-7006,, or visist