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 volunteer@breadforthecity.org.

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 volunteer@breadforthecity.org 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 volunteer@breadforthecity.org.

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 work@breadforthecity.org. **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 volunteer@breadforthecity.org 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 www.breadforthecity.org/Good-Hope-Gala

Questions? Contact Amanda Nover, Corporate Partnerships Manager, at (202) 386-7611 or anover@breadforthecity.org

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 them.dental 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.

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 breadforthecity.org or 202-595-7866.

Budget Training and Forums…#WeAreAllDC

At her open house in February, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she would be hosting a series of three Budget Engagement Forums throughout the city.

The purpose of these forums was to let residents know about the proposed items in her budget, and also to hear directly from residents about what things they would like to see her prioritize.

To help DC residents get vocal about what they wanted to see in the budget, our friends at the Fair Budget Coalition, started a social media campaign that included DC residents and service providers taking pictures with signs that depicted how they would Mayor Bowser budget 3like to see the city spend those funds. Bread for the City teamed up with Fair Budget, So Others Might Eat (SOME), Academy of Hope, Southeast Ministries and Sasha Bruce Youthwork to host a pre-meeting on the day of the forum that was to be held at Anacostia High School.

What would the budget look like if it truly had low-income DC residents at heart? That is the question that community members came together and answered one the morning of February 21st, while fellowshipping over a delicious breakfast.

We honestly weren’t sure how many people were going to show. The snow that was supposed to start at 1:00pm decided to come at 10:00am instead. That didn’t stop over 15 residents from coming out that morning. People wanted change, and they were willing to do what it took to get the ball rolling—snow or no snow!

Monica Kamen from Fair Budget did a mini budget training so that we could all see how the money is currently spent. Then we talked about some of the things that people are tired of seeing in DC, and who they see suffering the most. Finally, I led the group in a visioning activity, where we thought boldly (and radically!) about what sort of DC we would like to live in, and what sorts of priorities it would take to achieve that vision.Mayor Bowser budget 4

Mayor Bowser budgetThe end result was a beautiful tree that laid out the problems, the vision and the proposed solutions that could be addressed by the budget over the next four years.

Though the Budget Forum that was scheduled for that day was eventually canceled, residents were so geared up about the vision that they created, that we all tweeted Mayor Bowser to invite her to meet with the residents who had gathered at Bread. She was unfortunately, not able to make it.

We agreed to set a future date where residents could meet with one of her representatives directly to talk about their vision, and what things they would like to see in the budget.

The rescheduled Budget Forum was February 28th, and over 150 people turned out to tell Mayor Bowser what sorts of things—like truly affordable housing, adult education programs and more—they would like to see in the budget.

What would YOU like to see in the Mayor’s budget? Tweet us using the hashtag #WeAreALLDC!


Undoing Racism

A month ago I had a powerful experience. I spent two days with 45 mostly-young people in a training workshop on “Undoing Racism”. Almost 30 of the 45 were Bread employees or Board members – black, white, mixed, and Asian-American – and were there as part of Bread’s commitment to racial equity.

The program was run by a venerable group, based in New Orleans, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). It was founded over 35 years ago to address pervasive issues of institutional racism. As Bread’s Board Chairman I had traveled with our CEO, George Jones, our Medical Director, Randi Abramson, and another Board member, Dorothy Hawkins, to New Orleans to study several health clinics; our trip was managed by PISAB, which had deep connections to the area’s clinics. During that visit, we heard an enormous amount about PISAB’s efforts to engender racial equity. It became clear to all of us that this was training that our staff and board needed to have, particularly since over 90% of Bread’s clients are African-American.

To be clear, this wasn’t a training about racial prejudice or people’s attitudes to one another. This was, to me, all about consciousness raising. This was about having the white attendees start to see the world through black people’s eyes and having the black attendees confront a step-by-step analysis of how Eurocentric racism formed our economic, social and governmental institutions.

Race-relationsAll of this was hard, hard to hear, hard to confront, and hard to accept. But the evidence was overwhelming and incontrovertible, and it damns our society from the perspective of social and economic justice. It is important, however, to emphasize that these conclusions were the culmination of two days’ hard work. We were cautioned not to talk about the conclusions because they were so inflammatory, and so difficult to accept without understanding the build-up, that people hearing them without having gone through the training would reject the premise. But these points are too important to our future as a society to leave them unsaid without reliance on a training workshop that relatively few will attend.

It is not a surprise to learn that the financial net worth of whites in America is higher than the financial net worth of blacks. What is a shock – but shouldn’t be with our history of racial discrimination – is that the median wealth of whites is 13 times the median worth of blacks. That, according to the Pew Research Center, the median net worth of a black family in America is just $11,000, compared to white net worth of over $141,000. (Washington Post, 12/12/14). This disparity doesn’t even address income inequality or the disproportionate accretion of wealth by the top 1%.

The Undoing Racism training tracked the formation of economic, social and governmental institutions that consistently discriminated against African-Americans, relegated them to second-class status (if that) and fostered an economic exploitation that has formed what is often called the economic underclass. undoing racism

But to dismiss it solely as an economic phenomenon is to ignore its genesis in a calculated effort to oppress blacks and exploit them. The education, wealth and health outcomes that are the product of that economic, social and governmental oppression and exploitation are the burdens that we face every day at Bread for the City. And for those of us who are steeped in white culture, assuming the privilege that just seems to accrue to us, it was eye-opening and, more to the point, deeply troubling to begin to understand how our African-American friends and clients confront – on a daily basis – a world that seems calculated to diminish them and undervalue them.

Those without economic power are thus trapped in multiple ways, and while Bread for the City is a safety net for those mired in poverty, we would not be pursuing justice if we did not seek to address America’s racial inequities. The Bible commands us, “Justice justice you shall pursue.” Raising consciousness of our society’s inherent racism so that we can change the way we think and act, and move the next generation into a more equitable world, is an important first step. And I am very proud that Bread for the City is in the forefront of that effort.

Paul Taskier cropped







Beyond Bread – Making Ends Meet in the District

Guest Post by Patrick Sullivan, Director of Field Operations at Nest DC

Believe it or not, I’m the only Nester that was hired with any property management experience. The field is full of folks overwhelmed by the daily drama and, to be honest, the (mostly) unrewarding nature of the work. It’s hard to be stellar under those circumstances. But hey, I was told I didn’t have a choice. I was the kid who slipped through the cracks. Poverty, foster care and an educational system that didn’t know what to do with me. I was pretty sure any job was almost out of reach. Never mind a good job. But a blend of hard work, perseverance and luck led me to a happy marriage and a career(!). I genuinely love working at Nest. With all that, I am even more sensitive to those who have less. That’s why when I get to work, it’s like coming home.

We’re not just a management company here at Nest. We’re aiming to make the city a better place. I’m not gonna lie, when I interviewed and the folks said they cared about community and gave back, I thought they were full of it. Just another part of the sales pitch. But wow. I was wrong. Those boss ladies had me starring in fundraising videos, volunteering, donating and generally thinking about others. And it’s awesome. I’m particularly excited about our work with Bread for the City. They “provide vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.” I know what it feels like to be vulnerable. It’s terrible. And I want to help. I want you to help, too. Consider a donation to BFC. I can image there are more than a few lawyers reading this! Can you help out in the legal clinic? Can you put together a food drive at work? What about a clothing drive? It’s not about making time; it’s just about doing the right thing.

We’re always looking for an excuse to give our friends at BFC a shout out. We’ll be donating $1,000 as part of our Washington City Paper “Best of” campaign. If we place in the top three for best management company (or best friend) we’ll kick in even more.Patrick Sullivan Nest DC