Blog

Stronger Together

Over the last four weeks, Food For All DC (FFA) has assisted over 5000 food insecure people in the Washington DC area. We have dramatically increased our reach into the community by partnering with a number of grassroots organizations and community health centers, including:

  • Empower DC who give political and organizing power to vulnerable communities to advocate for their rights
  • Faunteroy Community Enrichment Center who offer creative online programs for youth – in which we plan to deliver 10 FFA laptops this week!
  • La Clinica del Pueblo who provide culturally appropriate health services to the Latino community
  • Mt. Pleasant Neighbors Helping Neighbors who connected Food For All DC with Bancroft Elementary School where 65% of the parents are Latino, and facing the crisis of unemployment.
  • Serve Your City who empowers and inspires at risk students with academic, athletic and community programs

Bancroft Elementary.edited (1)

image: unloading FFA grocery boxes at Bancroft Elementary

Food for All DC (FFA) provides food on a weekly basis to help these organizations support people in their radius of influence. These are people that FFA would not reach through its own network.

La Clinica (1)

image: sorting out FFA grocery bags at La Clinica del Pueblo

FFA is enjoying its new role as a hub in addition to delivering food to an average of 140 households a week. It is fulfilling to support the basic needs of individuals and to build solidarity with organizations committed to community enrichment.

Empower DC (1)

image: EmpowerDC making a difference to DC with FFA’s help

Finally we started distributing new t-shirts to our volunteers who also donate. Thanks to Brian Van Wye and Lindsay Clark from Clark and Carle at Compass Real Estate for sponsoring.

Here is the Saturday FFA crew ‘modelling’ this season’s shirt collection…

Motly Crew (10x20)

A brief update from our team of volunteers!

John, our stage/food pantry coordinator, emailed us all last week with a great idea. Respond to team and give a quick update on life since the world changed!

We thought we’d share our responses with everyone – here goes!

John

I’m social distancing by coming in every Wednesday morning and putting the food out on the stage for the upcoming weekend. I fill some bags and take them with me. Kathy emails me a list of deliveries on Friday, and I leave straight from home on Saturday morning. It works out well, but I miss seeing everyone on Saturday mornings. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to a semblance of the ‘good ole days.’

Mark

I have indeed been doing FFA stuff – I’m on an every-other-Friday schedule to help fill the bags with all those groceries that you put on the stage for each weekend’s deliveries. We’ve got a Friday team that’s me plus a couple of other guys. I definitely miss all the old gang, and you’re right, who knows what the future will bring, whether we will ever get back to something like normal again. Summer and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, we’ll see. But at least folks in my life are still feeling healthy, and we’ll hope that continues.

Heather

Yes, still involved with FFA each Saturday and Food Rescue as well. Still working from home though work is looking bleak. Other than that, all is well. I’m healthy and happy and life is good.

Anne

I’m still involved with FFA. Same drill or so every Saturday! I’m doing great, ‘magic’ as I always say. Everyone back home is healthy and safe. I am thankful for that. Been enjoying my ‘staycation’ (the Grand Canyon will have to wait next year!).

Kathy

I’m on the Saturday crew, organizing the driver deliveries. My “song & dance” has become, “do you have a mask, do you have gloves, are you okay going into a high-rise buildings”? And very specific instructions for those clients that are positive. This is the new FFA. As typical, each Saturday is very chaotic and we all “air” high-five each other when we’re done. It always just works out. That is always the theme of FFA!

Jess and Kevin

Kevin and I are well. We are driving to FFA clients on Saturday mornings so we get to say hi to a few folks from our CRV. We’ve been cooking up a storm, watching tons of movies, and reading lots of books. Glad to be healthy!

Carmella & Tate!

Hey friends…I sure do miss the old days of FFA and really miss seeing the peeps on the Friday shift! This was a great idea John… cause you certainly couldn’t get me to go on yet another virtual meet up on my down time! Tate who is now weighing in at 80 lbs has not been happy with me leaving without him the last 3 months…he is dying to get back to work or shall I say making more work for me! Perhaps soon.

Sandor

I have been going to FFA on Saturdays with my son, Marcell, as much as possible. My permanent hotel job (The Willard Hotel) is on pause, but hopefully I will be able to resume normal work and life once all those curious and generous travelers return. Wishful thinking, but I am positive!

Kathryn, Tim, Leo and Anna

It’s beyond lovely to hear all your “voices” in e-form, and heartening to know you’re well and that FFA has adapted to current constraints and demands and continues to do such incredible and important work.

Leo wears his FFA shirt weekly and keeps asking when we can return. We’re all healthy and well. Homeschooling‘s “zooming” along and Leo’s becoming quite the techie now that he has access to a computer for schoolwork daily. Anna, now age 4, talks about all the plans she has for when “the corona birus” is over.

David

On the Saturday morning basement crew with Anne, Molly and Frank. Largely packing bags or hauling boxes for some of our new partners like DC Mutual Aid and EmpowerDC and a Latinx group and a Mt Pleasant group. And bringing bread from Lyon Bakery – which has drastically cut production (and laid off employees) but still supplying us with 100 or more loaves per week.

Stuart

I definitely miss seeing everyone on Saturday mornings. Our family is chugging along just fine. Alisha and I are some of the lucky ones and are still working from home. Our little guy is now four months old and takes up every shred of our free time. I’m looking forward to catching up with you all at FFA and hope everyone stays healthy and safe in the meantime.

Kate (Food Rescue DC)

Work for FRUS continues but is different. More volunteers than ever though. It is heartening to see people stepping up.

Peter (Director)

Normally, I would be traveling at this time to provide technical support to AMURT’s international projects. But the virus changed those plans! Hence, I have been supporting FFA full time with client intake, partner relations, food supply and, now, resource mobilization. I have spoken with hundreds of people these past two months, hearing their (sometimes harrowing) stories and assigning them delivery days. It has given me a broader overview of people’s lives. Gosh! There is so much struggle out there…
It is very gratifying when, as happened last week, a case manager from Miriam’s Kitchen said that FFA is “efficient and prompt.”

Graeme

I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished. Now a Thanksgiving delivery is NOTHING! we can do that in our sleep! As for me, I’ve been doing some fundraising, answering emails from the new volunteers (our base must be huge now – our email list is over 3000) and going to the church on Thursdays and Fridays to help out. I’ve also been focusing on our new office which is almost done! Missing the Saturday crew! You guys are doing a great job.

Viola

Great to hear from the Fabulous Food For All team. I’m happy to help anytime; have been holding off for now on Saturday deliveries because when I did go, there was a wonderfully long line of volunteers in cars. It’s so gratifying to see.

Brian (Food Not Bombs)

I have seen photos and Instagram press of FFA helping (the FFA-stamped bags!!!) so many grassroots organizations and community activists that I know. I am certain this work has immense value to our community because it has been so we’ll received. Food Not Bombs DC hasn’t missed a single serving this year  handing out clam-shell to go containers of vegan food.

Molly

It’s so nice to meet so many of you who make sure the FFA gears stay turning! I love that I still get to see some of you at 8am on Saturdays (more like 8:15, since Frank & I can never seem to hit 8 on the dot…), and many MANY thanks to the week-day and Friday groups who make this happen! I’ve been doing well. Working from home until September at least, but staying super busy between work and FFA and the pups! Dog parks are finally back in business so the pups should be less grumpy soon. Will report back.

Laptops for All!

In the course of assisting people with food, we have observed that some families do not have laptops to support the (now) online education of their children. Some are able to borrow school computers; others have to use smart phones.

So we decided extend our services to “laptops for all” and gave out the first two computers last week.

Ana’s daughter (see photo) was the first recipient of a laptop from Food For All DC (FFA), and will now be able to complete her studies more conveniently. Before she was using a smart phone.

Ana has worked hard these past seven years to support her family, and never needed to ask for help. Then the virus came, causing her to lose her restaurant job and look for means to pay rent and keep her family fed. Ana is so grateful for the food assistance she has received from FFA For All. She appreciates the “big hearts” of FFA volunteers who want to help others so much. 

Ana gives a big “thank you” to FFA for caring for her and her family in these challenging times.

LAPTOPS

image: eight newly refurbished laptops for distribution. Each laptop takes two hours to prepare

Ana

image: Ana and her son and daughter with her new FFA laptop.

Let’s hear from Danny…

Food For All DC (FFA) keeps breaking its own records. This past week we served almost 700 people through food deliveries – FIVE TIMES our ‘pre-Covid’ volume.

All this service is achieved, each week – every week,  with the hard work of around eighty volunteers. Let’s hear from Danny, a clinical psychologist and radio show host, who shares his experience volunteering with FFA below: 

At the beginning of the pandemic, I saw an elderly person eating a chicken dinner in front of the grocery store where he purchased it. I was saddened that he had to risk catching the virus to come out to get his own food. That unfortunate scene motivated me to look for a volunteer opportunity to take food to vulnerable people.

Thankfully, I found Food For All DC! My first day of volunteering was unsettling as Washington DC was so quiet, and I was no longer in the safety of my own home. However, I soon got used to delivering food. In fact, whenever I volunteer, it improves the quality of the day. 

My son feels the same. He accompanies me each week and commented that delivering food “is one of the more rewarding experiences of the crazy pandemic.”

The food recipients are thankful and upbeat. When they come to the outside door of their buildings to pick up the food, we share a brief moment of human connection from a safe distance. 

It is easy to volunteer at Food For All. The operation is orderly and efficient, so my time is well utilized. I always look forward to volunteering at Food For All DC.

DANNY

image: Danny Griffin, who hosts the show “Walking on the Moon” on Takoma Radio

Listen to Danny’s show on Wednesday nights 8pm!

The “sandwich under the arm” edition

Food For All DC (FFA) had yet another record week, with 538 people benefiting from our food. A number of them are recently laid off restaurant workers who are struggling to pay bills and feed families. They are so appreciative of the support they receive from FFA:

I am very grateful for FFA’s big heart that helps so many people. I have always worked and never needed to ask for help before. I am amazed by how people are helping each other. A big thanks for FFA!

Ana

How beautiful that FFA can help with food, and in Spanish!

Camila

FFA was able to garner the support of  two former restaurant workers on a casual basis. They were so happy with this good fortune. Julio, whose wife is expecting their first baby, mentioned a saying used in Latin countries about babies coming with “torta bajo el brazo” – a “sandwich under the arm.” This means that babies bring good luck!

The partnership with Passion City Church is strengthening week-by-week. Passion City now has 23 volunteer drivers on call to deliver emergency food. This past week they delivered food within twenty-four hours of the initial request to a survivor of domestic abuse, a man discharged from hospital, and three people suddenly quarantined with positive COVID-19 diagnoses. 

Passion City Church also brought the Convoy of Hope to Washington DC, a faith-based movement that provides food in emergencies. FFA received 2500 pounds of supplies from the convey, including care kits of toiletry items, which are much needed by our clients. 

JULIO

image: Julio stocking the shelves in the Food For All DC pantry

Finally our laptop appeal got off to a great start!  11 laptops were donated last week alone (with more promised) and we’re going to start setting these up this week. Thanks to everyone who donated one.

The new normal…

The demand for food continues to grow in Washington DC, with Food For All DC (FFA) meeting the food needs of over 500 people during the week. This is a 25% increase from the previous week! Many laid off restaurant workers are beginning to call, resulting in FFA supporting twenty recently unemployed workers and their families during the week.

Maryam Khatami, a social worker at St Colletta of Greater Washington, a school for kids with special needs, underscored the importance of FFA’s endeavors:

“You may not be aware how much some clients depend on your food right now. Your services are great!”  

FFA’s dedicated volunteers are the backbone of the program, with over 100 volunteers giving their time to keep the operation running week-by-week. We love getting feedback from volunteers like Carol who wrote:

I was glad to be able to volunteer Saturday and I was impressed by the operation. So professional and well organized!!! Thank you for all you do.” 

During the week, FFA was happy to collaborate with two new valuable DC organizations: Park Road Transitional Program and Faunteroy Community Enrichment Center (see photos). When citizens build solidarity with each other, we all rise up together.

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Image: Malik Lang, Executive Director of the Faunteroy Community Enrichment Center  that provides educational, creative and lifestyle services to youth and seniors in Ward 7. Food For All DC is providing the center with groceries for distribution to food-insecure residents of Ward 7.  

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Image: Mr. Paige, House Manager at PPark Road Transitional Program, receiving food bags for 10 residents who are in transition from substance abuse and crisis situations.

We are making a difference!

For the past three weeks, in order to meet the growing demand for food in Washington DC, Food For All DC has been increasing the number of food recipients by 100 weekly. Last week we provide food deliveries to 413 people. The following client testimonies show the impact our food is having: 

I don’t get food stamps, so this is a big help. The food was excellent and I could use everything. I pray for the volunteers continuously. 

Bonita, a recent cancer survivor

My daughter and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The two ladies who brought our food gave me the uplift I needed to get through the week. 

Chatara, recently unemployed

I appreciate your volunteers so much. They are doing a great service for the seniors.

Betty, a senior citizen

In terms of volunteer drivers, we had a record week, with 50 drivers showing up on Saturday to make 120 deliveries. It is heartening to experience the great spirit of service that is moving community members to support each other. 

It’s been another great week for our fundraising efforts. In total we’ve raised almost $18,000 in a month which is outstanding. We received a wonderful donation of $1000 from an individual who wrote:

“This is the bulk of my stimulus check. Please use it for those in genuine need”

Thanks to EVERYONE who has contributed.

The photos below show thank you notes from some of the women beneficiaries at the YWCA, all of whom were formerly homeless; and one of the volunteers from Passion City Church delivering to a recipient who was recently made unemployed.

notes

chutch

A record week at Food for All DC

This week, Food For All DC broke all its records. We received 124 phone calls (in normal times we were getting 10 a week) and we distributed 191 food bags, benefiting around 300 people (breaking last week’s record of 200 people).  Thankfully, we are still able to meet the demand and are getting more streamlined to cope with the new and fast changing reality.

This week, we partnered with two organizations: Passion City Church and Ward 6 Mutual Aid. Passion City has provided on-call drivers for emergency deliveries during the week, and Mutual Aid, a loose coalition of citizens and community-based organization, will service the food deficient residents of Ward 5 and 6 in Washington DC.

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Image: Darlene and Pamela accepting FFA deliveries at the YWCA

Food For All DC is receiving referrals from twenty social workers, who are grateful for the opportunity to get food delivered to their clients. Elisa from Network for Victim Recovery of DC said, “I really can’t thank you enough.” And a social worker from Mary’s Center wrote, “We are so grateful for your program.”

Our fundraising broke new records also – we’ve raised over $13,000 in one month thanks to the generosity of folks from all over the USA and beyond!

Food For All DC is blessed with remarkable volunteers. On Saturday, over 50 drivers (another record) showed up in their personal vehicles to offer to deliver food throughout Washington D.C. It is clear that the human spirit of service is strong and steady.

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Image: Food ready for packing 190 bags

We are pressing on – helping those in need…

It has been another busy week at Food For All DC. There were 84 calls from clients and social workers during the week that resulted in over 200 people receiving food deliveries.

This week we started to get requests for food from the unemployed, mostly those laid off from restaurants. In addition, a lot more single mothers called with young children to feed at home. Many people have seen their support systems taken away from them. A woman in transitional housing said that her homeless daycare center closed, leaving her without a place to get food.

Another initiative we started this week was calling clients to see how they are doing and to ask if they need additional support. One single mother who has a son with leukemia and cerebral palsy was grateful: “Thank you for the call,” she said, “I was feeling lonely.”

The feedback from clients has been encouraging. A 79-year-old woman with respiratory problems said, on receiving confirmation of her food delivery: “I am about to cry, but they are tears of joy.” Another new client said, “You people are angels. Thank you for taking risks to help us out.”

FFAclient

FFA client with underlying health issues who is unable to leave her house.

On the operational side we were very busy also. We packed and delivered over 100 bags of food on Saturday morning. Social Distancing at the church was in effect as shown below.

Social Distancing

We made up 35 routes (requiring up to 35 drivers) and the demand from volunteer drivers was AMAZING! In the end we had to turn away almost 20 cars!

Mark and Marcell did an outstanding job managing traffic. Here is Mark give a new driver the lowdown…

Mark

Check out the line of cars waiting to get a route!

 

Finally it’s been another great week for our Fundraising efforts and have so far raised well over $10,000. This may sound like a lot but we will be quadrupling our spending for the foreseeable future.

Please continue to give generously and share our GoFundMe with your friends, family and social network.

Thanks!

The Food for All DC team.

Food for All DC in these unprecedented times…

To say it has been a busy week for Food For All DC is an understatement.

We have been getting around twenty calls a day from clients and social workers. The demand for food is unprecedented. And the challenges that people are facing are dire. Wheelchair-bound seniors. A mother whose child has cerebral palsy. Seniors with autoimmune diseases. People with fragile mental health. A man with advanced Parkinson’s. These are just a few of the critical cases we encounter.

These clients have no way to get to the store, given that many are in high-risk groups. Moreover, for many, their local food pantries have closed down because of social distancing, making them even more food-insecure.

This week, Food For All DC was able to serve almost 70 households (including 51 new clients) thanks to the tireless dedication of our volunteers. The feedback from the clients has been excellent. One client said, “You are a life saver.” A social worker said, “The clients were so happy with the selection of food you provided. You have filled a wide needs gap.”

jandk

On the fundraising front, in the last 10 days we’ve managed to raise over $7000 from over 40 individual donors – plus a generous donation from one of our main supporters Planned Systems International (PSI). Now that we’ll be ordering from the Capital Area Food Bank weekly (as opposed to monthly) this will be a huge help!

We’re still in need of funds though – please share our GoFundMe campaign.

Food For All DC is committed to continue its services, and will keep you updated.

Thank you for the support.

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