Thanks to the continued generosity of Loaves and Fishes donors, both individuals and institutions, the program is able to continue providing food for people, even while pandemic-related restrictions prevent the program from operating at full capacity and from using its indoor space. The work of the program is even more critical these days as the pandemic-induced unemployment rate continues to soar and many individuals and families struggle to feed themselves.
The management board of Loaves and Fishes has decided to give $6,500 to Sanctuary DMV, an organization that assists immigrants and marginalized communities in the DMV area (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia). The funds will be used to purchase food cards for families in the D.C. suburbs at Hispanic grocery stores near the recipients. The program will also give $3,500 for food cards for tenants at an apartment building close to St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. Loaves and Fishes provided similar assistance to residents of another building in May.
Some members of the management board held a phone call the week of July 12 with the head of Thrive DC, an organization that, like Loaves and Fishes, also operates out of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. One of Thrive DC’s programs provides bags of groceries to people in need on Thursday mornings, and Loaves and Fishes is considering supplementing this Thrive DC service to distribute grocery bags on Saturdays when people come for the Loaves and Fishes bagged lunches. Grocery bags will be provided on Saturdays starting on July 25 with an initial distribution of 20 bags.
The management board held its monthly meeting by conference call on Saturday, July 18. The board heard a report from Denize Stanton-Williams, its operations director, about the program’s main operations – serving ready-to-eat meals. She said these operations are going well and continue to offer bagged sandwich lunches on Saturdays and a hot meal on Sundays, both on a take-away basis.
Stanton-Williams said the word is out about the program’s hot meals, which resumed in late June after being on pause since mid-March. The program provided 147 hot meals on July 12. “People are showing up,” she said. “This is necessary. We are helping a lot of people.” She said a woman came who was ineligible for SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) because eligibility is based on last year’s income, which for her was higher and not affected by this year’s pandemic.
And the program continues to provide about 125 sandwich lunches on Saturdays. Stanton-Williams said a person comes on Saturdays who takes some extra lunches and brings them to shut-ins.
The board discussed making more meals available on both Saturdays and Sundays as well as increasing the amount of hot food it provides as a way to meet the critical needs of the neighborhood for food and to make good use of the generous contributions of all of its donors during this continued health and economic crisis.