August News — Partners in Solidarity

From the Director: Solidarity Partners

Photo of Peter Sage, Food For All Executive Director

A crucial aspect of FFA’s ability to fulfill its mission is its relationship with like-minded partners. Our diverse partners help us with funding, and food access, delivery, and distribution. Just as an individual needs support from others to survive (including that of Mother Earth!), an organization needs bonds of solidarity to succeed.

FFA thanks all those entities that walk with us on the path of service and welcomes two new partners highlighted in this newsletter: DoorDash for food delivery, and GEICO for funding. Together we fight food insecurity!

Distribution Partner: Trabajadores Unidos

FFA has partnered with Trabajadores Unidos de Washington DC (United Workers of Washington DC) since the height of the pandemic, supplying food on a weekly basis to the day laborer community. This partnership exemplifies FFA’s slogan “Solidarity through Food.”

We recently met up with Mario Cristaldo, TU’s executive director. Mario has been in the non-profit sector for 20 years and recently joined TU to further his life’s mission of advocating for those without a strong voice in society. He has already made some great achievements, starting a resource center for day laborers, lobbying the DC Government to get stimulus money for TU members, and securing health insurance available to low-income workers.

FFA is pleased to stand in solidarity with TU and the important community it supports.  The day laborers know that if food is ever in short supply at home, they can access the deliveries made by FFA every Friday without condition.  

New Delivery Partner: Door Dash

With demand for food increasing due to rising costs and with volunteers returning to the office, FFA has struggled to find enough weekday drivers. Enter Project Dash, DoorDash’s nationwide service project. FFA now has a solid partnership with DoorDash that provides over 50 free household deliveries every week. Thanks to this partnership, we never have to turn people away due to a shortage of volunteer drivers.

FFA is delighted that first Amazon Fresh, and now DoorDash, have recognized our important work of providing food security for our DC neighbors. These solid partnerships give us strength – and legitimacy – as a volunteer run organization.

New Funding Partner: GEICO

GEICO provides its employees the opportunity to highlight organizations for which they volunteer during its annual giving program. This year, Maya, a Saturday volunteer driver, presented FFA to the selections committee and secured a $20,000 donation! The committee appreciated the grassroots and volunteer nature of FFA, as well as the ease with which people can volunteer. Thank you, GEICO and Maya!

We are grateful for our amazing, committed volunteers, and all who continue to support FFA in every way. 

Are you an #ffarunner?

🏃‍♀️🏃🏃‍♂️Runners: This Sunday, April 24, we get to run 5K with the Brau Runners to benefit Food For All DC and hang out at DC Brau Brewery after, have a beer, and celebrate spring and the start of FFA’s spring campaign! Run starts at the brewery at 11 a.m. Be an #ffarunner

😴 ☕️ Non-runners: Yeah…it’s Sunday morning, and some of us are just not ready for that. But we can greet those overachievers on their successful return to the brewery and enjoy the beer and good company. Bonus, you’ll also get to sleep later: hanging out starts at 11:30, upon the runners’ return. (Non-runners are also welcome to walk the route or even bike it and cheer on the runners.)

What is a Brau Run? It is a free 5K-ish route run/walk starting and ending at DC Brau Brewery that benefits a different non-profit each month. Free t-shirts for first-timers!  It’s a casual run, with no registration required. And all participants get a FREE beer after the run! Attendees are encouraged to donate to the non-profit of the month, which is us(!) Food For All DC this month.

Special thanks to the Brau Runners, who come together monthly for running, supporting the DC community, and beer. They designate a different group each month and this is the third time FFA is the beneficiary, thanks to our longtime and steadfast volunteers Jess and Kevin. And thanks to DC Brau Brewing, too, for hosting and supporting good work! 
 
DC Brau Brewery is at 3178 Bladensburg Road NE. Once you turn into the parking lot, go through the arch that says DC Brau and down the hill to the back of the parking lot. For more information contact info@foodforalldc.org.

Image of the front cover of the 2021 Annual Report

Our First-Ever Annual Report

It is an honor to share Food for All DC’s 2021 Annual Report with you. This report demonstrates the huge impact we collectively have in supporting food insecure residents of Washington, DC. Because of your generous engagement with FFA, we were able to meet the needs of everyone who contacted us in the more challenging months of the pandemic. And we were able to support other partner organizations in their endeavor to soften the blow of the pandemic for their constituents.

Thank you for your solidarity.

Partner Profile: Amazon Fresh

In August 2021, Food For All partnered with Amazon Fresh through a program administered by the Capital Area Food Bank called Meal Connect. This partnership has become incredibly beneficial as it permits FFA to offer a broader range of food to our client participants. Every Thursday we pick up a truckload of meats, dairy items, bread and a selection of shelf stable food from Amazon Fresh Chevy Chase.

Our clients have noticed the new choices. Inez, for example, told us she had never eaten organic dairy before and was thrilled with the Greek yogurt. Thanks to these partnerships, we are able to share in the joys of discovering new favorites. Hearing from our community members like Inez makes us even more motivated to continue to grow partnerships like these.

Pet lovers (isn’t that all of us?) will appreciate that we even receive dog food periodically. We recently provided a gourmet brand to a client with a service dog. She reported that she had never seen such a contented look on the dog’s face! We love being able to be a part of people’s lives in this way, including their four-legged friends!

A “Food-ful” Partnership

Since May, 2020, Food for All has partnered with Mount Pleasant Neighbors Helping Neighbors to provide food assistance to struggling residents in this tight-knit DC neighborhood. Begun as a response to the dramatic spike in need during the pandemic, we continue to feed up to 250 families every week, making it clear that this small, community-led effort has become a lifeline for many. A recent survey of beneficiaries showed that about half would not have another option for food assistance.

One site is managed by the Woodner Apartments Tenants Union, a volunteer effort that supports residents in that building as well as three others. The sustained demand for food at this and our other site at Sacred Heart Church suggests that these communities suffered from underlying food insecurity prior to the pandemic. FFA and NHN are committed to helping these neighbors as long as funding lasts.

Interview with Reza, Volunteer Driver

After working as a consultant in Brazil for ten years, Reza decided to return to his roots in the DC area. Then the pandemic hit, and he reached out to Food For All.

Food For All: What volunteer work have you done for FFA?

Reza: Because of my knowledge of Spanish, I was asked to deliver food to the Latinx community. It was great getting to know people, most of whom lost their jobs because of the slowdown in the restaurant industry. The food we provided helped them get through this sudden challenge.

FFA: Why do you volunteer?

Reza: I am a spiritual person, which for me means creating connections with all life and expanding horizons. Food For All was a natural fit as it helped me become more aligned with people I did not know. If we have any hope of changing the world, we need to become familiar with each other. In a small way, therefore, Food For All has helped me contribute towards manifesting the world I want to see.

FFA: Have you faced any challenges?

Reza: It’s not always easy. There are times I’ve had to deal with ill-mannered people when driving along DC streets, when trying to park and when interacting with some clients. I am learning to meet people where they are and remain centered all the time.

FFA: Do you have any final thoughts?

Reza: Volunteering at FFA is enhanced by the camaraderie among the volunteers. It is so uplifting to interact with people motivated by their hearts.

Kathy Johnson: Rising from a challenge

Kathy Johnson holding her painting titled “Out of Africa.” Kathy, an animal lover, uses
National Geographic as an inspiration for animal paintings

Kathy Johnson, a Food For All recipient, is a cancer survivor who helps others get through the ordeal of chemotherapy. During her own chemotherapy Kathy felt trapped. She was losing herself. She knew the only way forward was to fight.

Her fight took different forms. Art provided a great refuge. Kathy was an art instructor at the YMCA many years ago, but stopped painting after getting a government job. During chemotherapy her son bought her some paints and she dived back in. Art was a panacea for the pain.

Another survival strategy was diet. Long before she was diagnosed with cancer, Kathy started eating healthier food, including a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. That kept her weight down and her body strong, increasing her resilience to the cancer ordeal. She also stopped eating after 5 pm as a weight control measure.
Based on her own experience, Kathy has developed a straightforward philosophy of life: learn from tragedy, heal yourself well, and then help others.

Interview with Jaime

Jaime came to DC in 1993 to further his career as a make-up artist. He fell in love with the city due to its diversity, its energy and its many events. The pandemic was devastating for Jaime’s work as social distancing and make-up artistry don’t mix well! Jaime connected with Food For All in July 2020.

Food For All: What was the initial response from FFA?

Jaime: Welcoming! I was at a challenging part of my life. I had no income. I could not go out. Food For All came into my life when I needed their help the most.

Food For All: What was the service from FFA like?

Jaime: After the first food delivery I said to myself, “Jaime, we are cooking tonight!” I did not expect to receive such healthy food, especially all the fresh produce. With that first delivery I felt like a kid opening a Christmas present.

I appreciate how you give me food choices depending on what you have in your pantry at a given time. I had a humble beginning in Texas, with both parents working on farms. We never wasted food, and that principle stays with me. When FFA only delivers food that I like and need, then nothing will go to waste.

Food For All: Now that you are getting back to work again, what will be a takeaway from FFA?

Jaime: Food For All has reminded me what a healthy diet looks like, a diet that is nutritious and tasty. I have rekindled my love for fresh corn, for example. Corn baked with olive oil and salt is divine!

Food For All: Would you like to share any other life principles?

Jaime: Sure! The principle of “Every little bit helps!” A little extra food can provide comfort. A little extra kindness can make someone’s day. The little details are important. Just saying “good morning,” to someone, for example, can change their mood.