Author Leanne Brown visits Bread for the City

Exciting things are always happening here at Bread for the City, and yesterday (Oct. 7th) was no exception! Nationally-renowned author of “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day”, Leanne Brown, was at our northwest center to host a mid-morning interactive Q&A session with clients and staff about how to prepare healthy and delicious meals on a limited budget.leanne brown

Good and Cheap is a cookbook for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. The PDF is free and has been downloaded more than 900,000 times.

Attendees sampled a variety of Good and Cheap recipes that included corn soup with tomatoes and onions, chocolate-zucchini cupcakes (which stole the show), and panzanella, an Italian salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes and bread.

Leanne also gave great tips on getting the best out of inexpensive ingredients and creating healthy meals from left-overs.

Those in attendance received a free copy of the Good and Cheap cookbook and a $25 gift card froleanne brown 2m Harris Teeter.

Access Wireless, a service provider for the government-funded Lifeline Assistance Program, sponsored the event and was onsite to provide information about Lifeline Assistance and process enrollment requests for interested individuals.

After the event, Leanne and our CEO George A. Jones, headed to the WAMU studio to appear on the Kojo Nnamdi show. There, George spoke about the difficulties of eating on $4 a day. The interview can be found here.  Enjoy!leanne brown 1


She’s awesome and we know it!

Bread for the City isn’t above crowing about one of our own. Congratulations to Senior Staff Attorney Taylor Healy, who was recently nametaylor healyd a DC Rising Star by the National Law Journal!

This award recognizes the DC area’s 40 most promising lawyers under the age of 40, and Taylor definitely qualifies. Her work at Bread for the City has been exemplary. As an Equal Justice Fellow, she brought BFC legal services to Northeast DC—the first time we ever had an on-site legal presence in this under-represented region. She helped organize residents of Victory Square to fight for a bus stop outside their building; they went up against WMATA and won, not once, but TWICE!

Plus, Taylor is a pivotal part of our new affordable housing advocacy campaign. Through her work with our Community Lawyering Project, she collaborates with tenant associations to address issues like equitable re-development of subsidized properties and improving building conditions. Using a combination of traditional direct legal service and community organizing, Taylor works closely with residents of subsidized units to make sure that their needs are truly heard and that the support we provide them is client-led and appropriate. It’s truly rare to find someone with the skills to cover all of these bases, but Taylor pulls it off with aplomb!

But don’t take our word for it. What do the experts say? “I think what makes Taylor special is she is so hands-on,” said Lisa Dewey, pro bono partner at DLA Piper. “She is so passionate about the work she is doing as a community services lawyer and a legal aid lawyer, it’s infectious.”

All hail Taylor!

Taylor’s work is made possible in part through private and public funds awarded by the DC Bar Foundation, as well as through support from DLA Piper LLC.

Amharic Speakers needed for Housing Access Clinic!

HAP logo

Bread for the City is currently seeking volunteers who are bilingual in Amharic and English, to help with our Housing Access Program (HAP).

Through HAP, we help clients navigate the steps to finding and applying for affordable housing.

In our Amharic housing clinics, clients receive information on how to apply for affordable housing in Washington, DC. Volunteers are needed to work with Amharic speaking clients in small groups or one-to-one to assist with completing affordable housing applications, filling out forms, and answering questions.

Currently, we are looking for volunteers who can commit to assisting for about 3-4 hours each week at our NW Center, located at 1525 7th Street NW. Bread for the City can also provide transportation assistance for client volunteers. Our weekly sessions are held on Monday afternoons, though there are opportunities to assist throughout the week as well.

To learn more about volunteering with the Housing Access Program, please contact Wondimu Geda, Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator, at or 202-386-7091.

Welcome(ish) Aja Taylor, Advocacy Director

Bread for the City is just making ALL the big changes right now. We’re officially an FQHC; we just launched our new strategic plan; and for the first time ever, we have hired an Advocacy Director!

This new role is a big step for Bread for the City. While we’ve had a manager of advocacy and community engagement in the past, this position has never before been at the director level. This means that we have elevated advocacy to be a core piece of our holistic service model—like our food program, medical clinic, or legal and social services programs.

After so many years of listing “justice” as one of our fundamental values, why are we doing this now? It’s simple: the District has lost over half of its affordable housing in the past 10 years. Bread for the City’s clients are being priced out of the city they call home – away from resources like jobs, social services, public transportation, and the leisure and cultural activities that make DC such an amazing place to live. We believe that this is unacceptable; we believe that this is based, in part, in racist housing and economic policies; and most importantly, we believe we can do something about it.

Enter Aja Taylor! Aja is an award-winning community organizer previously based in our Legal Clinic. She will be leading a team of community organizers and client leaders at Bread for the City and beyond, as we work to staunch the bleed of affordable housing, and ensure that all DC residents can afford to live and work in the city they call home. In coalition with cross-sector partners, other tenant organizers and others, Aja’s charge is to work toward building the power needed to create the political will to preserve and create 22,000 units of affordable housing.

Join us in congratulating Aja on her new role, and please join with us as we continue the fight for housing rights in the District. Wanna get started? Email Aja at










BFC’s CEO Supports Funding for Community Facilities

Bread for the City CEO George A. Jones testified before the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development on August 13th and 19th about the need for the next round of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to include competitive funding for community facilities. Below is a excerpt of his testimony, which has been submitted in its entirety to the public record.

Today, Washington, DC looks very different from the city that existed when Bread was founded in the mid-1970s. In many respects, the District is now a city of “haves” and “have nots” to an extreme that has never existed before. In one report, it was stated that the average household income in Ward 3 is $240,000, while the average household income in Ward 8 is $43,000. (The average BFC client has a household income of less than $7,000.)

DC has lost 50% of its affordable housing stock over the past decade. According to a recent report from the Urban Institute, by 2020 there will be 22,000 to 33,000 more households that need units at 30% (or less) of Area Mean Income (AMI), than there will be units. This is why a steady stream of people come to Bread each day seeking assistance in finding affordable rental units and access to our holistic array of programs: food, clothing, healthcare, social and legal services.

The struggle to afford housing in DC, and to easily access healthcare and food compels me to urge DHCD to prioritize the development of rental units that are affordable at 30% or less of AMI. I also urge you to assist with the development of facilities that can help those with low incomes access the kind of holistic services Bread for the City provides.

It is also important to note that the vast majority of those struggling to find affordable housing and who turn to organizations like Bread are people of color. There is a troubling socioeconomic divide that falls along racial lines in DC. This is the same kind of divide that has been at the epicenter of the cases of civil unrest that other major urban areas have experienced across the country. There still may be time for DC to proactively address the systemic issues that have fueled unrest in other parts of the country, but I fear that time is running out.

I applaud DHCD’s recent RFP, which specifically targets the creation of units at-or-below 50% of AMI, and look forward to seeing more evidence of your commitment to our neighbors living on very low incomes. While it seems clear that DHCD will provide immediate funding aimed at addressing the affordable housing crisis, it is less clear when or if the agency will provide Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds for new community facilities. Because of the link between housing needs and basic services needed by so many residents, I urge DHCD to offer a round of CDBG dollars, ASAP.

Recently, I mentioned to a client that we plan to build a new 25,000 square foot community center in Southeast DC. The new center would replace our current 9,000 square foot Good Hope Road facility that is bursting at the seams. “But,” the client asked, “shouldn’t we try to put ourselves out of business [rather than build a new Center]?” I quickly agreed with her premise, but I told her that until our city can adequately address the affordable housing crisis, the historic income disparity and double digit unemployment rates affecting people living East of the River, I’m afraid facilities like the one Bread plans to build will be vital resources for those trapped by those poverty statistics. The new Center will not only provide the food, clothing, legal, social and medical services we have offered for more than 40 years, but will also boast dental, wellness, and commercial retail space, while expanding our Pre-Employment Program. It will also provide ample space for our client-led classes, our community organizers, and community members with limited access to meeting space.

Ultimately, our hope is that we DO run out of business as the level of poverty doesn’t just move out of DC, but actually diminishes in a meaningful way. Perhaps at that time, this new facility can be re-purposed into a shopping center or housing.

In recent years, the DC government has created for the haves, a city that is pristine and laden with all the residential and commercial amenities that privilege could desire. Now is the time for DC to create equitable access to basic necessities like quality affordable housing and service enriched facilities so that all DC residents can enjoy life in DC.

Want to learn more about Bread’s new strategic plan and hopes for expansion? Email George directly at










Reflections of a Volunteer Corps member

“I’m in a volunteer corps.” That statement will get you lots of things and get you lots of places. People will give you rides, offer to buy you drinks, or food, and at a party you always get sent home with the leftovers.

It also means that at your placement, you are temporary. This can mean that people are hesitant to get to know you because they know that before long your year of service will be done and you will be leaving.

Working at Bread for the City though, it means something completely different. Being placed at Bread means that for one year, you gain an amazing loving, supportive, and embracing family. Despite the fact that everyone knew when I started that I was going to be here for just a year, they welcomed me. They got to know me, they helped me, and they taught me.

During my year at Bread for the City, I learned so much from all of my co-workers. I learned patience, kindness, gentleness, budgeting, and bill paying. I have begun to learn about racial equity and more that cannot be put into words. I have also learned to give so much more than I thought I was ever capable of. I have been challenged to grow and have been supported every step of the way.

Kristina HeerenAs an organization, Bread for the City has a unique way of supporting its staff and making sure that we have the training needed to do our work. From the comprehensive, organization-wide new staff orientation that happens every year, to the trainings staff are required to attend, and the trainings each department asks its staff to attend — when you start working at Bread for the City they will make sure that you have every tool you need to succeed at your job.

BFC is also unique in the way we treat our clients. We are taught from the first day on the job to treat everyone with the dignity and respect all people deserve. We are not to look down on our clients or pity them. We are to help them to the best of our abilities and treat them like we would a co-worker or a colleague. I find this approach so refreshing and inspiring. Many non-profits who work with the under-privileged of a community tend to have an air of pity or sorrow. But at Bread, there is no sorrow and there is no pity. I find this so inspiring because I feel that people should be treated with dignity and respect and that is exactly how they are treated when they walk through the doors of Bread for the City.

I am sad to say that my year of service is over, and my time at Bread for the City is over for now. But working here was such a blessing and I cannot imagine having been placed anywhere else. Bread for the City really is one big family and I am so happy that I got to be a part of it!

Thank you to everyone who made me feel welcome and who helped me learn and grow throughout this year!



Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator

Wondimu Geda is a full time Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator with our Housing Access Program (HAP).  Wandimu is fluent in Amharic, English, Afan Oromo, and Gurage.  He works to make sure that our Amharic speaking  clients have full access to HAP programming and often facilitates other BFC programs.

At BrFullSizeRenderead for the City, we value language access and see it as an integral piece of dignity and respect. All of our staff have been trained on our language access policies and know to offer interpretation services at every point of contact. If a staff member is not available to provide language services or interpretation we will call a telephonic interpretation service. For appointments scheduled ahead of time, we often bring in outside interpreters to facilitate culturally appropriate communication in meetings.

We are also always looking for ways to improve our offerings and reach new communities.  Wondimu has taken the lead in translating program documents into Amharic. He leads a monthly Housing Access Clinic completely in Amharic. The demand for this workshop has been so high—it often fills up within a week of advertising—that he’s expanding it to multiple times monthly.

Here’s a quick interview with Wondimu on why he loves his work with BFC:

What’s your favorite part of being a Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator with BFC?

My favorite part of being a Bilingual Housing Coordinator with BFC is meeting clients, discussing issues with them in their native language (in Amharic and sometimes in Oromo language) and becoming part of the solution to some of their problems and addressing their needs. It is interesting that some of our clients who are coming to BFC just to participate on our HAP are accessing other public benefits and social services (like SSI, SSDI, Retirement benefits Health Insurance, legal services etc.) about which they did not know before. I am always motivated by the amazing TEAM work of the BFC family!

Why is your project – Amharic HAP – important? What has the impact been?

Our Amharic speaking clients can get information about the Housing issues in DC areas through the Amharic HAP Clinic information session and the translated HAP documents. I also think our Amharic speaking clients are encouraged to apply to subsidized apartments and are using their worksheets during their applications.

What’s your dream for Amharic services at BFC?

I am hoping that our Amharic HAP will grow and BFC will be more inclusive by addressing our Amharic speaking clients’ specific needs in its housing advocacy work and in its general strategic planning. I hope BFC will continue to expand the bilingual staff across departments.

Taste Your Music!

This summer, Bread for the City was chosen as beneficiary in a special community outreach project called Taste Your Music. Presented by two local arts organizations, Gourmet Symphony and Capital City Symphony, the program provides meals, performances, and fellowship to DC’s residents in need.


As part of Taste Your Music, this past June we welcomed a professional string quartet for a chamber music concert to our rooftop patio for the first time ever! The musicians performed for our staff and clients, sharing their talent and love for music with all present.

Our guests also enjoyed a refreshing beverage prepared by Gourmet Symphony’s co-founder John Coco. He served a delicious “strawberry basil smash” using leaves from our very own garden. The drink was the perfect sweet pairing for a sunny summer afternoon. In addition to their visit, Gourmet Symphony and Capital City Symphony are donating essential kitchen items for grocery bags to be distributed later this fall at Bread for the City.taseyourmusic2

As the summer project comes to an end, we would like to invite the Bread for the City community to join Gourmet Symphony and Capital City Symphony for the Taste Your Music Benefit Concert at The Hamilton Live on Thursday, September 3. This event celebrates the program’s success with an evening of cuisine and live music, featuring a full symphony orchestra with soprano soloist and a 4-course dinner menu created by chefs from The Hamilton and Beuchert’s Saloon. The Benefit Concert will also provide us with a platform to showcase our work in the community.

A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit us as charity partners in Taste Your Music, as well as two other local service providers.

For tickets and sponsorship information, please visit



Tai Chi at BFC? Yup!

Hi, have we met? I’m Gail Knight. I lead workshops and discussion at Bread for the City to help reduce stress and balance the mind, body and spirit.

I conduct these workshopGail Knight - Tai Chis using a combination of gentle movements and postures, progressive relaxation, massage, breathing practices, visualizations, and healing sounds from various components of Tai Chi Chaun.

Although I’m still getting acclimated with working with Bread for the City’s Client Advisory Council, I’ve been facilitating a Tai Chi Chaun workshop with the WomenStrong DC Program for quite some time. My workshops emphasize the vital need for self-care which includes:

  • Better spiritual, physical, mental, emotional responses to common stressors and their effect on various health conditions
  • Body strengthening, enhancing internal organs, and applying these techniques to managing pain
  • Reducing stress and encouraging healing

Not familiar with Tai Chi? Here’s some fundamental information:

Tai Chi Chaun is an abridged name of Tai Ji Quan/Tai Chi Chaun/Taj Qi Gong/Tai Chi Kung. Tai Chi translates literally as “the Great Polarities of Yin and Yang,” while Quan/Chuang/Gong means “fist,” Chi equals energy. The philosophy is known as the “Classic of the Way and Power.”

Tai Chi Chaun involves using the mind and breath to control the movement of energy in the body. The movements of Tai Chi can be done slowly for health purposes, or quickly for self-defense. Tai Chi can be done safely by people of all ages, and regular practice promotes mental tranquility, organ toning, as well as physical strength, balance and flexibility.Tai Chi WS

Tai Chi is one of the most advanced Chinese martial-art forms. Its fundamental structure is based on combat and self-defense moves.

My journey began with a call to move beyond the ordinary, to rise up in the face of pain, exhaustion and deep fatigue. My interest in traditional Chinese medicine and the healing arts lead me further. I was cleared by my physical therapist to incorporate Tai Chi into my self-care and became certified. Although my own journey continues, I’m inspired to help others.

I invite you to consider Tai Chi as a self-care and fitness resource, maybe as a desire for connection, a curiosity to discover something new, an experience of something inspiring or beautiful, or a sense of balance. Perhaps you’ll find all of these things and more. My contact information is: or 240-670-4474 for questions or further information.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this: when life deals you a tough blow, it’s easy to get down and feel powerless. There is power in calmness. You have the power to enlist all of your resources in your effort to overcome a challenging situation. You have the power/calmness to take that first step, even if you can’t see beyond it.

Bread for the City’s WomenStrong DC is proud to be a consortium member of WomenStrong International (WSI), a new 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

It’s Kind of a Big Deal, Too!

Hey, guess what, everyone???

Bread for the City is pleased to announce that we received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide quality primary care to under-served DC residents. And this grant isn’t just a new source of funding for us – it means that our clinic is officially a full Federally-Qualified Health Center! (Or FQHC –and brace yourself for more acronyms to come, as this is a blog post about the federal government).

As we wrote a little over a year ago when we became a FQHC Look-Alike, it’s kind of a big deal. Being certified as a Look-Alike (LAL) allowed us to receive 100% reimbursements for our patients on Medicare and Medicaid—revenue which closed the planned budget gap we had been running, earlier than we even expected. Now that we’re a full FQHC, we qualify for extra grants from HRSA, like the New Access Point (NAP – see what I mean about acronyms?) grant of $541,667 that we just received.


What does this mean for Bread for the City, you may ask? Well, to start, it means that our clinic can keep growing. (Good Hope Road, here we come!) New Access Point grants are actually designed to fund healthcare for those who are not covered by insurance plans and/or do not have a primary care physician, so Bread for the City will now be working with two other clinic recipients (congrats to La Clinica del Pueblo and Elaine Ellis Center of Health, too!) to provide healthcare to almost 7,000 people in the District who were previously uncovered. In other words, this isn’t funding for our existing patients – this is funding to care for those in DC who have been without healthcare for far too long.

What this WON’T mean, however, is any major changes to our mission itself. We are still committed to making our clinic a “medical home” where patients feel heard and cared for by their physicians. We still believe that the disparities in healthcare access that we see in our patients are based on far more than insurance status alone – race, ethnicity, immigration status, language access, are all structural forms of oppression that hurt our community. We fight these oppressions every day by providing culturally and linguistically-competent medical care, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. We’re going to keep doing this – we’re just going to be doing it for more people now, and we can’t wait to get down to work!

despicable-me-minionsThe work of Bread for the City’s Medical Clinic is partially funded by HRSA, the Affordable Care Act, the DC Department of Health, and the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs.