Blog For The City

Delay the TANF Time Limit Cut & Protect 6,000 Vulnerable Families

In 2011, the District announced that it would implement lifetime time limits for receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

TANF is a federal benefit intended to provide income assistance, job training, and other services to low-income families with children. Before 2011, D.C. used local money to continue to provide the benefit for needy families even after they reached the 60-month limit covered by federal dollars.

After a series of gradual reductions, by October 2015 the District plans to terminate all TANF benefits for households who have received TANF for more than 60 months over the course of their lives. Without further action, more than 13,000 children in the District will fall deeper into poverty.tanf

At the outset, it’s important to remember that TANF is a benefit that is only available for qualifying families with children. Bread for the City is concerned about this “TANF cliff” and the effects it will have on our clients and their children.

Families who have received TANF for more than 60 months have already suffered several reductions since 2011—a family of three that has received TANF for more than 60 months now receives a maximum monthly amount of $153; compared to a maximum of $434 per month for a family of three who has received TANF for less than 60 months.

Bread for the City has joined with a number of local organizations to ask the D.C. Council to delay this final cut for another year. Delaying the “TANF cliff” will give Mayor Bowser’s new administration time to improve services and design a reasonable time limit policy.

TANF is not a “handout” program. The government is supposed to provide support and services to TANF recipient families to help them reach self-sufficiency. While the District has taken steps to improve the program, there are still gaps in the screening process used to determine what services families need to become self-sufficient. Some families may need only job search assistance, and some may face serious barriers to employment, such as physical and mental health problems, low cognitive functioning, and low levels of education.

Some of these barriers, such as domestic violence, allow TANF recipients to “stop the clock” while they get services and support that will help them to move forward with their lives. In our experience, even with the improved screening process, domestic violence survivors have not always been directed to the appropriate services, which would exempt them from counting time against their 60-month lifetime limit.

Even for families who do not qualify for an exemption, many reached their 60 months before recent improvements in employment screening and services were put into place. Imposing the time limit now is unfair because many families still have not had the opportunity to receive the services they need to succeed.

Our clients use TANF primarily for rent, though even the maximum TANF benefit does not go far in D.C.’s costly housing market. For those families that do not need to use their entire TANF benefit amount on rent, TANF goes towards transportation costs, personal hygiene items, diapers, and clothing. We anticipate more housing instability and clients unable to cover their basic needs if the final cut is not extended.

Additionally, families who are cut off TANF will not only lose the (already reduced) money, they will also lose the job training and other support services (since they will no longer be TANF recipients, they won’t qualify for those other programs). So they will really be left with nothing–neither money nor support services.

Join Bread for the City and Mayor Bowser in asking the D.C. Council to delay the “TANF cliff” for a year.

Dig This!

There’s A LOT going on in our Sustainable Agriculture Department!

Earth Day Celebration – On Wednesday, April 22, clients and community members will help us plant trees to replace the ones that wEarth Dayere lost over this harsh winter. It’s also Earth Day, an internationally recognized day of action and reflection on our role in improving the environment. Transportation and snacks provided to clients who want to come from either center. Please contact Adam at

Plant Giveaway at SE Free Farmer’s Market! April 24th, 10am – 12pm – The Sustainable Ag Team will be bringing seedlings to the SE Free Farmer’s Market on April 24th. Community members who come will get a plant or two to grow at home, plus free advice about how to care for your new plant.

Food Justice Youth Summit – On Friday, April 10, 150 Capitol City Public Charter School students, a few Food Summitteachers, some of our friends from local non-profits, Bread for the City Staff and clients came together in our NW Center to chart a course toward a better food system. The Ag Team played host and gave a few of the participants a tour of the roof. Fun was had by all. Ideas were sparked. Here are the tweets! We hope to collaborate more with our community members on grassroots food justice and equity work.

SE Rooftop Garden OPEN - Get your garden on! Clients are invited to join Amber on the SE Center rooftop every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00 am – 4:00pm.

Recycle for the City -The Ag Team needs some common household items to help do their programming. Here’s the wishlist:
  • Clean yogurt cups or small containers plant giveaways. We’re running out.
  • Clean glass jars (pasta or mason)
  • Marbles or pebbles
  • Rubbermaid container w/ lid or a real worm bin.

Wednesdays at City Orchard – We’re looking for a few people so come out with us regularly on Wednesdays to City Orchard. Coming out once or twice a month is a big help since the Orchard is always changing. It’s nice to have folks who build their skills over the season. Please contact about coming to City Orchard.

April Crop Mob – Last Saturday, 87 volunteers came out to City Orchard, got a lot of work done and had a great time. If you’d like toApril crop mob join us at the next Crop Mob on May 9th, get in touch with Kris or Adam at

And finally: We’re hiring…Click here for the job announcement. If you or someone you know is passionate about growing food and building relationships with people, please apply by sending an email stating interest to **Candidates will be asked to attend one workday at City Orchard on either a Monday or Wednesday in April. Transportation provided.**

Whew! We made it. Thanks for reading!

Housing Clinic presented in Amharic

I speak amharic

Good News! Bread for the City has launched a monthly Housing Clinic that is presented entirely in Amharic.

This session takes place on the last Friday of every month at 9:00 a.m. at our Northwest Center. Interested clients should contact our Amharic speaking case manager, Wondimu Beda, to sign up.

As with all other Housing Access Program (HAP) participants, Amharic speaking clients are required to have completed a general intake before the Housing Clinic. Wondimu has placed some signs (in both English and Amharic) around the NW center advertising this, and also plans to post notices elsewhere in the community.

Wondimu has done a fantastic job of translating all of our forms and presentations in the English HAP sessions, and in creating accurate and culturally appropriate documents.

We have had two of these sessions already and they have been very successful. A few participants who also speak English had attended a session in English, but report that they got so much more out of it after hearing it in their native language.

Way to go, Wondimu!

WHAT: Housing Clinic in Amharic
WHEN: Monthly – On the last Friday of the month, 9:00 am
WHERE: 1525 7th Street, NW, 1st floor conference room
TO REGISTER: Call Wondimu Geda at 202-386-7091

Serve With Us: National Volunteer Week & Earth Day Opportunities!

Celebrate National Volunteer Week by hosting a clothing drive!

National Volunteer Week begins April 12th. To celebrate, we’re inviting community members to join the fun (and jump-start spring cleaning efforts!) by hosting a clothing drive. Bread for the City is in need of seasonally-appropriate items so that our clothing room will be stocked for spring. Sadly, we are unable to store winter items you no longer need, so please hold onto those until September! We need:

● Children’s clothing
● Men’s clothing
● Women’s plus-sized clothing
● Department store shopping bags
● New, unused personal hygiene products

We invite you to drop off your collected items at the conclusion of National Volunteer Week on Friday, April 17th between 1:00 and 4:00 pm at our NW Center. Want to volunteer once you’re here? We will need two small groups of volunteers to help sort the donations dropped off on the 17th.

Volunteer week


Earth Day Tree Planting at City Orchard!

This Earth Day, we are planning a special tree planting activity at City Orchard! City Orchard is our 2.75 acre organic fruit orchard in nearby Beltsville, MD. All of the fruit grown and harvested at City Orchard is distributed to Bread for the City clients through our two food pantry locations.

We are currently seeking a group of 20 volunteers to help with the tree planting activity on Wednesday, April 22nd from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Bread for the City will provide on-site volunteer training. All experience and skill levels are welcome!

To sign up for either opportunity, please contact a Volunteer Coordinator at or call 202-595-7865.Volunteer at Orchard

Save the date for Bread’s Good Hope Gala!

We can’t wait for Bread for the City’s Good Hope Gala!

Our annual event’s new name, “Good Hope Gala”, pays homage to our Southeast Center’s roots on Good Hope Road, SE, while reminding us of the reason we come together for this event—to provide hope for more than 33,000 people in need every year.

On Saturday, May 16th, we’ll come together for an evening of fun and dancing at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Washington Mystics’ house band, Brass Connection Band, will bring their bold, up-tempo style to keep the party going as we celebrate the good work of Bread for the City.

See you on May 16th!GalaFor event details and sponsorship information, visit

Questions? Contact Amanda Nover, Corporate Partnerships Manager, at (202) 386-7611 or

DC Food Pantries Move Towards Reduced Barriers

We’re excited to announce a change that will help reduce and remove barriers for people seeking food resources.

With the collaboration and support of the Capital Area Food Bank, many food pantries in the Washington DC area have agreed to stop requiring a referral, meaning, individuals can now go directly to most food pantries without first having to go through a third party like Bread for the City or Capital Area Food Bank. As you know from our previous blog post, these paper referrals present significant burdens for folks utilizing food pantries, so this is an exciting and welcome change.

rippin paperBeginning April 1, 2015, Bread for the City will no longer provide written referrals to food pantries.

Sadly, food security is still a real issue for many. We will continue to help individuals locate food pantries and provide information on how to access these services. Clients can also visit either one of our centers during social services open hours* to discuss a food security plan with our social services staff.

The Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Lifeline will also remain open to provide support on the best sources of food nearby, but they will no longer send written referrals through email, fax, or mail.

We hope in this way to serve less as a “gatekeeper” and more as a “gateway”, guiding individuals and families in need to food pantry options. We believe that individuals seeking resources are the best experts of their own need, and thus the need for a third party referral is eliminated.

For questions please contact:
Kathleen Stephan
(202) 386-7021

*Bread for the City – Social Services Open Hours
NW Office: Tuesdays & Thursdays 8:30am-10:30am and 1pm-3pm
SE Office: Monday through Thursday from 9:30am-11:30am

Dr. Myles and his team make us all smyle!

As we settle into year three at Bread for the City’s dental clinic, many positive things have revealed themselves.

We’ve seen over 1,500 unique individuals, many of whom had not received dental care in over 10 years, and in some cases, ever. As part of bringing clients back into the fold, we’ve had many great, in-depth, and personal conversations with our clients sometimes leading us to feel like a part of their extended families.

Because many of our patients have been coming to the dental clinic since we opened in 2010, we have become a regular part of their healthcare routines through the holistic care that we pride ourselves on offering.

Dr SmylesIt’s amazing to talk with our clients about what drove them away from dentistry, watch them attempt to re-integrate oral health into their lives, and then progress to the point of looking forward to their next dental appointment. Many of these conversations have gone beyond dentistry to reveal personal struggles, strengths, and successes.

I came to Bread to become a change agent, and with a desire to give back to the community that has educated me. I am still amazed at how the community continues to give me strength to continue. I’ve been fortunate to receive a pat on the back from elders that say, “You’re doing the right thing, keep going”; to the youngest of our clientele saying that they want to become a dentist themselves. Believing that my role here is about the service and not the individual, hearing from, conversing with, and possibly treating my eventual replacement is the greatest compliment to servicing others!

Having been here since the beginning, Tigist Goodwin, the staff dental assistant, says, “Working here feels like more than just a job. What you do here is gratifying because of the positive effects it has in people’s lives. You can’t help but to want more for yourself because you see the impact of your work.”

In a nutshell, we take great pride in working with the patients that we encounter on a daily basis and we get back from them, just as much as we give to logo_green


Covington & Burling Makes Flagship Gift to Bread for the City’s SE Center Expansion

The law firm of Covington & Burling has made the first gift for an upcoming $15 million expansion of Bread for the City’s Southeast Center on Good Hope Road. This $100,000 contribution will help Bread for the City (BFC) expand its civil legal services practice for low-income individuals living East of the River, and is part of Covington’s commitment with the DC Access to Justice Commission’s “Raising the Bar” Campaign to help bridge the legal services funding gap in the District of Columbia.

legal clinicCovington and BFC have a long partnership, dating back to the early 1990s, when legal services were first offered as part of Bread’s comprehensive approach to fighting poverty. In addition to more than 20 years of financial support, Covington provides BFC with loaned associates, each of whom works part-time for a six-month rotation as a member of BFC’s legal team. These associates provide direct legal services to BFC clients in the housing law area, representing clients in Landlord-Tenant Court and various administrative agencies to fight evictions, improper rent increases, and housing code violations.

“Covington’s support is a critical part of our formula for fighting poverty in the District of Columbia,” says Bread for the City Chief Executive Officer George A. Jones, who is also a member of DC’s Access to Justice Commission. “Their kind of commitment to providing substantial financial and pro bono support to civil legal services is what this city needs if we are to ensure that all residents have access to healthy food, safe and affordable housing, and equal justice under the law.”Bread for the City’s legal clinic provides services to approximately 1,800 low-income DC residents each year, as well as brief service and referrals to several thousand more annually. Unfortunately, the clinic has outgrown the existing space at Bread’s Good Hope Road location. Bread’s legal clients need a larger waiting area and more private meeting rooms where attorneys can speak confidentially with them. And as the legal staff grows to meet the needs of our community, more work space is needed.

Covington’s grant comes from an attorneys’ fee award in a pro bono civil rights case in Arizona in which the firm won an injunction against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling of Hispanic individuals. The firm’s policy is to donate fee awards in such cases to charitable causes.

Cast your cabin fever aside…Spring is here!

Do you have cabin fever? Bread for the City has a solution: plan a volunteer trip to City Orchard this spring!

City Orchard is our 2.75 acre organic fruit orchard in nearby Beltsville, MD, where we’re growing apples, Asian pears, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

Each season, these plants yield thousands of pounds of fresh fruit — all of which are distributed to DC residents in need through Bread for the City’s two food pantry locations.

Volunteers play a very important role in keeping our orchard running. Last year, 900 volunteers helped at City Orchard to harvest, prune, weed, mulch, and more!city orchard

One such group of volunteers who helped regularly at City Orchard was The Mission Continues, an organization that works with veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home. Through their service, The Mission Continues volunteers helped to stake and cover our strawberry patch, harvest fruit, and they even built us a beautiful blue farm table.

The Mission Continues group leader Vu Nguyen says, “Volunteering at the City Orchard has been such an amazing experience for all of our military veteran volunteers. Getting a chance to learn about agriculture and use our skills to help Bread for the City provide fresh fruit and produce has given us all a renewed sense of purpose and passion for what they do. Most importantly, being at the lovely orchard has allowed us to meet some wonderful people who have the same passion to volunteer.

This year, we need YOUR help! Currently, we are in need of volunteers to help with our regular Wednesdays at City Orchard or at one of our upcoming Saturday “Crop Mobs“!

To sign up to volunteer with a group or as an individual, contact a Volunteer Coordinator at or call 202-959-7865.

Undoing Racism potluck

Tonight in our Northwest Conference Room, we expect 40 community members for the second-in-a-while Undoing Racism potluck. These monthly events, co-sponsored by Bread for the City and Service to Justice, are opportunities to share food and stories, and deepen relationships.

The gatherings have taken different shapes over the years havipotluckng started with alumni from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism/Community Organizing trainings, but are open to anyone involved in anti-racist work in DC.

The goals are to:
– Connect and energize racial justice work across communities and issues
– Support each other by sharing food, cultural, and healing practices, fun, and frustrations
– Commit to organizing your community to undo racism

Please join us! 6-8pm Wednesday, March 11th at Bread for the City, 1525 7th St NW – Shaw Howard (Green/Yellow) Metro — G2, G8, 64, 70s, 96 Buses.

If you are able, please bring food or drink from your family or community to share.

Questions? Contact Joni at jpodschun at or 202-595-7866.