A new report by the DC Office of Planning revealed that Washington, DC’s food insecurity rate in 2020 is estimated to be at least 16 percent, up from 10.6 percent before the pandemic. Rates among the elderly, children, undocumented individuals, and unhoused individuals are expected to be even higher. With nearly 150,000 DC residents having filed for unemployment, our community needs us to help fill this gap in food security now more than ever.
When COVID-19 struck, the DC Food Project embodied this community approach, as they engaged volunteers and school staff to identify families in need and provided nutritious groceries in a dignified, intentional way. They achieved incredible levels of scale this past spring, and when the new school year began, our organizations decided to work together to take on these growing needs.
Last week, DC Central Kitchen and DC Food Project kicked off our partnership to source, package, and distribute groceries for 675 families located primarily in Wards 1 and 4. DC Central Kitchen will leverage our purchasing power and relationships with local farmers to buy produce, grains, milk, and bread that will be distributed across 8 DC school sites every other Friday. And, because this scale of grocery distribution requires a significant labor investment, DCCK staff and graduates will assemble the bags as part of our robust community meal operation.
While many grab-and-go sites across the city are open to anyone, DC Food Project has worked closely with school administrators and staff to identify kids and families who most need this support, and then invite them to pick-up the bags at designated times at specific, convenient sites these families know and trust. As part of DC Food Project’s model, school staff also work closely with families to ensure other needs beyond food, including social emotional challenges, are being met with other resources.
DCCK will deliver bags for 200 families to Powell Elementary, and the remaining 475 will be delivered to Bruce-Monroe Elementary School which will serve as a hub location for DC Food Project volunteers to coordinate smaller deliveries to the remaining 7 sites. DC Food Project volunteers will bring the bags to each participating school and set up each station before handing over the formal distribution to school staff who have existing relationships with participating families.
Since its founding in 2018, DC Food Project has worked tirelessly to ensure DC families have enough to eat during the weekend when school-provided breakfast and lunch are unavailable. During the pandemic, their work has grown exponentially to address the growing need for nourishment in our communities. They have secured enough funding to continue providing supplemental bags of groceries to families through the 2020 calendar year, but they need your help to continue this work into the future. We know the ripple effects of this pandemic are far from over, so please consider making a donation to their organization directly. Even with the tireless contributions of their volunteers, DC Food Project requires $10,000 in direct weekly supply costs to support this level of scale. Consider joining this effort today!