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This year’s infographic is a reflection of our programmatic expansions in response to the needs of our city. Bread for the City successfully provided the most support with the least amount of barriers from the onset of the pandemic. For us, that meant loosening our requirements on food distribution as it became more important to protect our clients, staff, and greater community than to meet face to face and complete paperwork to receive food. With an incredible increase in the need for our services, we vowed not to allow paperwork to be the mountain in the way of diapers, food, or COVID testing. 

Thrive East of the River, a direct cash assistance initiative, is one of those critical programs. Thrive, of which Bread for the City is a founding member, is an innovative cash transfer project that will provide 500+ households impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns with $1,100 a month; groceries, diapers, and other dry goods; and assistance with financial counseling and other job readiness supports. As of the end of August, Thrive has distributed more than $1,000,000 in assistance to over 185 Wards 7 and 8 families. BFC is currently in the process of rolling out cash transfers for the next group of 215 clients, bringing our total served by the end of September to 400 families. We have been in the direct cash assistance space through the Small Favors Fund and Representative Payee Program for a long time and we look forward to using that knowledge to expand the services we offer through programs like Thrive.

Advocacy has been building relationships with our clients for years and because of that community trust, BFC was one of the first organizations sought out as a reliable partner for the Mutual Aid Networks that were formed in March in DC. The mantra and defining value of the long-time movement is “we keep us safe” The Bread for the City Southeast Center became the headquarters for Ward 7 and 8 Mutual Aid and has been the hub for executing Mutual Aid services such as delivering groceries and other basic needs. We have been continuing to root our work in justice through testimony to defund the police at the DC Council’s Budget Oversight Hearing on MPD and leading a daily stop traffic protest in June, in front of our Northwest Center, to bring attention to George Floyd’s murder and police brutality.

I would be remiss not to share how access to our services were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. DC courts were closed, but our Legal Team stayed on the ball by fighting to protect the moratorium on eviction and ensuring community members knew their rights during this stressful time by co-leading a monthly Tenant Defense Workshop with tenants’ rights leaders. The Legal Team continued to serve new and current clients remotely while also  participating and hosting multiple DC-area hotlines. Walk-ins for all of our services dwindled and were discouraged when possible, but we met our clients where they were through telehealth and food delivery. Our clothing room was closed to reduce health risk, but we look forward to opening a more expansive clothing room in the new Southeast Center.

It’s clear that there is a lot to reflect on and I’m humbled that there is still much to look forward to, even now. Our new Southeast Center opened in September and we were still able to celebrate through the Virtual Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting. In case you missed it (or want to relive the fun!), here is the recording of the event. We are continuing to open the building safely that prioritizes the health of our clients and staff.

We couldn’t accomplish this without you. We are showing up every day and thinking creatively to best overcome the obstacles of COVID-19. Our doors are open because of our dependable and generous supporters. If you would like to learn more about any of the updates I shared, please reach out. It’d be great to connect.

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