Bread for the City
Marian visits our food pantry when she can’t stretch her food stamps through the month.
Marian’s Thanksgiving blessing
This holiday season, she’s thankful she had somewhere to turn when her food stamps just weren’t enough to keep food on the table. She says, “There have been times in my life when I didn’t have anything, and Bread for the City has given me the meat and the noodles and the sauce to make a pot of spaghetti to last for two or three days.” Almost everyone who visits our food program also relies on food stamps to buy groceries When it comes to her food stamps, each month. Once you’ve used Marian says, “I don’t get that much anyway, up your food stamps, there are but I’m grateful for what I get, and Bread usually at least three days at for the City ﬁlls in the blanks.” the end of the month that most families needed to find another source of food. “Now, with the cuts, it’s about a week,” says Leonard explains. Recovery wasn’t going to be Edwards, another Bread for the City easy, but she knew it was worthwhile. Marian relied on her disability income client and volunteer. When it comes to her food stamps, and food stamps to make it through Marian says, “I don’t get that much each month while she tackled her anyway, but I’m grateful for what addiction problem and started looking I get, and Bread for the City fills in for work. But it’s hard to get by on the blanks.” public assistance alone. ’m in recovery, and Bread for the City has been a blessing to me,” says Marian Leggett, a 48-yearold client in our food program. “I was hanging out on the street, doing drugs,” she says. In time, she decided she needed a change. “I started praying and going to meetings and surrounding myself with people who were doing positive things,” she
Our Holiday Helpings campaign provided traditional holiday meals to 8,110 families this holiday season, supported 100% by private donations.
Thank you for making our mission possible. We couldn’t have done it without you! As this newsletter went to print, 46 sponsors, 100 drives, and 1,324 donors helped us feed 8,110 families in need.
This November, Marian started her first job since she entered recovery. She didn’t receive a paycheck in time for Thanksgiving, but she knew she could count on Bread for a healthy holiday meal. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford this turkey,” Marian says, holding her Holiday Helpings bag, “This is a blessing for Thanksgiving.”
Food Stamp Challenge: The Third Time Is No Charm
n day 7, the final day of my Food Stamp Challenge, I was down to a cup or two of frozen collard greens, 4 slices of pineapple, and a box of instant grits — not much of a meal. The idea behind the Food Stamp Challenge is for hunger advocates and those who care about the poor and hungry to try to live off of $30 — roughly the amount food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, receive each week. I take the challenge each year to show solidarity with those food insecure citizens living in DC. Moreover, I take the challenge as a protest to Congress’s periodic and callous threats to cut the SNAP program, such as the threat this winter. My wife, daughter and older brother who live with me did not participate in the challenge, but looked on curiously as I would eat paltry meals cobbled together from my meager groceries. On day six, I ate my last two eggs (boiled), two cups of grits, my last serving of broccoli and a cup or two of collard greens. As you’ll note by my girth, I can probably afford to miss a meal or two; still, during the last 24 hours of my challenge, I felt light headed and tired — certainly due to the mere 905 calories I consumed the day prior.
Food stamps policy update Food stamp (otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) recipients saw a decrease in their benefits on November 1st. Why? A federal law called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, also known as the stimulus package) had expired. ARRA raised food stamp benefit amounts for a few years while the economy was in a deep recession. As a result of the expiration, everyone on food stamps had their benefits reduced.
George A. Jones, Bread for the City’s Chief Executive Officer, takes the Food Stamp Challenge every year to show solidarity with the thousands of people across DC facing food insecurity.
With the expiration of the ARRA boost, the average two-person household has seen its monthly food stamp benefit decrease by up to $20. Even eligible households that before November 1st received the $16 minimum amount of food stamps saw their benefits drop. This reduction in food stamps was due to a federal law, and the D.C. government could do nothing to stop the reduction. Nonetheless, stakeholders have been working with the D.C. government to get out the word about the change. Part of the outreach effort also includes informing the D.C. community about other resources that are available to help them get a little more food each month.
This is the third time I’ve taken the food stamp challenge, and once again I was surprised by the difficulty, both physically and psychologically, I had with each passing day. It was tough to watch my family, my colleagues, and even people on TV eating anything they wanted. Experiencing the pangs of hunger in my stomach underscored in my mind how painful each day, week and month must be for those who are at risk of going hungry throughout the year. Experts often ascribe children’s behavior problems — chronic fatigue, short attention spans, and poor academic performance — to the fact that they don’t get to eat the daily recommended diet. After this week, I can attest to two things: (1) there is a real physical and mental toll exacted when you’re consistently hungry and lack food; and (2) I’m more determined than ever to fight to make sure every person in Washington, D.C. can eat three meals a day, every day of the year. That’s why I call on all of my family, friends and everyone reading this to tell Congress it must not cut funding for the SNAP program. Let’s make sure that all children and their families will not miss meals while we have the resources to ensure that everyone has access to this basic human right. —George A. Jones, Chief Executive Officer
Still, November’s cuts felt sudden and deep to the more than 146,000 people in our city — and millions across the country — who rely on the program to keep food on the table. “That $20 — that was a bag of sugar, bread, milk,” says Leonard Edwards, a disabled veteran and volunteer at Bread for the City who relies on our food program when his food stamps run out at the end of the month. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it cut deep.” Bread for the City’s food program continues to help families with children or family members who are elderly or have a disability. Our legal and
social services programs have food stamp estimators that can help clients understand how their benefits changed. But the next few months will still be confusing and stressful to many lowincome DC residents. Congress is also considering additional cuts in food stamp eligibility and funding, so there may be more changes on the horizon. We are doing our best to prepare our clients, but the whole community will need to get involved to provide education and support. —Stacy Cloyd and Allison Miles-Lee, public benefits attorneys at Bread for the City
Getting up and giving back My name is Jeff Bredt, and I am a volunteer for Bread for the City who has been fortunate enough to be asked to write about myself and my experience at BFC. I am a client of BFC, who, with my wife and daughter, comes down every month to the food pantry to help augment our SNAP benefits. Bread for the City’s food pantry helps us to make ends meet on our limited funds — which consist solely of what we receive from TANF and from my school scholarship.
For every tree that found a sponsor this fall, there’s a name hanging on the wall outside each of our food pantries. That way, the families you’ve fed will know exactly who to thank!
Fighting hunger the BFC way
his past September, the Bread for the City community participated in Hunger Action Month by fighting hunger the best way we know how: through a long-term solution that involves growing nutritious food and providing it to the people in our city who need it most. City Orchard, our organic fruit orchard in Maryland, is home to more than 570 trees. It costs us $35 to maintain each tree in our orchard throughout the year. The trees grow fruit like apples and Asian pears — which we’ll use to stock our food pantry and distribute in grocery bags for thousands of our city’s families in need. What’s great about it is that every tree can feed about 10 families for only $35, and that’s healthy food straight from the earth! So many of our amazing supporters took action! And guess what?! 188 trees found new sponsors! That’s nearly 2,000 families who have healthy, nutritious meals because of you. We just can’t thank you enough.
For this year, we have a total of 462 trees with sponsors. We still have 108 left in the orchard! Sponsor your tree today at donate.breadforthecity.org/orchard
I am currently a student, returning to academia after leaving a very lucrative career in the hospitality industry. For twenty years, I practiced my trade as a sommelier, which (if you don’t know) is someone who is an expert on the subjects of wine, spirits, beers, cigars, and water. It is a great job, requiring me to travel to the wine-growing regions of the world, educating restaurant staff on the niceties of proper beverage service, working at the best establishments, eating the best foods, and drinking the finest wines. Yes, I was a professional drinker. But there is, however, a serious drawback to such a romantic notion as drinkin’ for a livin’: alcoholism. And, of course, after partying day and night (and getting paid to do so), what came next for me was an addiction to cocaine. Swell, just swell.
“I know from experience that getting what some would call a ‘handout’ can be an acid bath to a person’s self-respect, and it does not have to be that way.”
In early 2012, I entered rehab (thank you, Whitman-Walker Addiction Treatment Services) and spent the next sixteen months trying to overcome my addictions and, most importantly, rebuild my life. Returning to school has been a major component of this effort. So, too, has been my volunteer work at BFC, and it has been an honor to give something of my true self back to the community which put up with my shenanigans for so long.
What have I done at BFC since becoming a volunteer in June? My initial posting was, at my request, in the food pantry, as I wanted to help other clients get the food they needed and with the same respect and dignity that I had always received. I know from experience that getting what some would call a “handout” can be an acid bath to a person’s self-respect, and it does not have to be that way. I recently requested the opportunity to shift my efforts at BFC to their Housing Assistance Program, which is where I volunteer now. As a paralegal student at the University of the District of Columbia Community College, part of my training has been in conducting initial client interviews and assisting with the filling out of necessary paperwork. Therefore, my participation at BFC is no longer just for my own personal growth, but it is also helping me to get the real world work experience I will need after I graduate and try to get a job. Volunteering at BFC has been one of the best things I have ever done. Not only do I help others in my community get the assistance they need to improve their lives, but I get personal and professional growth. Everyone should be as lucky as me. —Jeff Bredt, client and volunteer at Bread for the City breadforthecity.org
2013 Good Hope Awards Every year, Bread for the City celebrates the volunteers and partners who make our mission possible through the annual Good Hope Awards. Here are this year’s award winners: Advocacy & Community Engagement Volunteer Denice Speed
Orchard Partner Washington Hebrew Congregation
Beyond Bread Community Champion Roger Kuhn
Social Services Volunteer Barbara Kilpatrick
Community Reformer DC Time Bank
Vecchio for volunteering her photography services at this year’s Good Hope Awards!
Big thanks to Jessica Del
Corporate Partner Avalere Health
Above: Joni Podschun-Hansen, Advocacy & Community Engagement Manager, awards Denice Speed for her service with advocacy and community engagement efforts like Bread for the City’s Wellness Space.
Development Volunteer Jalyn Henton Food Program Partner Agora Farms
Left: Chief Executive Officer George A. Jones honors Avalere Health as this year’s Corporate Partner for its assistance with the transition to become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) as well as its participation in events like Holiday Helpings and Art with a Heart.
Legal Partner Capitol Process Services, Inc. Legal Volunteer Blake Biles, Esq. Medical Partner Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington
saVe tHe date:
Bread for the City’s 40th Anniversary Gala
Make an in-kind gift by donating food, clothing, or an item from our Amazon Wish List
Take a trip down memory lane with Bread for the City as we celebrate 40 years of service.
See our Wish List at Amzn.to/BFCWish
thursday, april 3, 2014 at 6pm Tickets: $250 and available at www.breadforthecity.org/gala
Here are some of our most-needed items: ✔ Children’s books, especially in Spanish
✔ Plus-sized clothing for men and women
✔ Cleaning supplies/ laundry detergent
✔ SmarTrip cards
✔ Gift cards for grocery stores and pharmacies
✔ Toilet paper and other household items ✔ Thumb drives
Reception and gala followed by live auc tion at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 3700 Calvert Street NW, Washington, DC SPONSORSHIP AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE! Contact amanda nover at 202-386-7 611 or ANover@BreadfortheCity.org.
Winter 2014 Newsletter, Bread for the City