Capital Area Food Bank
In Mission First’s DC senior residence House of Lebanon, a new partnership between Mission First and Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is ensuring that our residents don’t have to worry about food insecurity. DC Regional Coordinator Amy Hedges of CAFB has worked with our Resident Services team members Patrick Williams and Anna Bobo since January 2015, when they initiated an application process to become one of CAFB’s partners in distributing food to people in need across the District.
Beginning in June, Resident Services has picked up food once a month from CAFB and distributes it to House of Lebanon seniors in need through its “Fresh For Your Health” program. “Fresh for Your Health” aligns with the Resident Services team’s objective to provide health and wellness programs for its residents. In January 2015, Resident Services distributed a survey to House of Lebanon residents, and learned that there was an overwhelming interest in programs that focus on health and nutrition. Accordingly, Patrick and Anna designed “Fresh For Your Health” to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to our seniors. An average of 39 residents benefit from the program per month—nearly half the capacity of House of Lebanon! So far, the program has distributed over 2100 pounds of food. Having access to fresh vegetables right in their own building helps our seniors, many of whom have difficulty making it to the grocery store, eat healthy, supplement food stamps and fixed incomes, and have fewer overall health issues. “Fresh For Your Health” is also building community among House of Lebanon residents and staff; the maintenance staff voluntarily pitches in to pack the food each month, and a group of eight residents has been volunteering to help with distribution and deliver food to homebound seniors.
CAFB has provided the DC area with free and dramatically reduced-price food for the past 35 years. Since its founding in 1980, the organization has seen many changes in those who need its services, following the changing trends in the populations struggling with homelessness and housing-insecurity. Initially, clients of the program were primarily single men with addictions. Today, the majority of those who use the food bank’s services are suburban, working families. Amy Hedges has been with CAFB for the past three years. She manages the food bank’s current partnerships, as well as partnership outreach, and performs site visits to ensure that all food storage areas are both sanitary and secure.
The majority of the food that passes through Capital Area Food Bank reaches community members through food assistance partners—like House of Lebanon! Currently, most of their other partners in the District are faith-based, and organizations typically receive distributions of food a couple times a month. Looking forward, CAFB has expressed a strong interest in working with more housing developments to more effectively provide food to even more people in need. Mission First’s proven experience providing housing and services to people in need, dedicated staff, and experience with anti-poverty work make us a natural fit for this new initiative, especially given our residents’ high interest in quality nutrition.
Patrick and the rest of the Mission First team are very excited about this new opportunity to work with Amy Hedges and everyone at Capital Area Food Bank. Patrick sees the House of Lebanon Fresh for Your Health program as a pilot, and is working to expand it to other Mission First properties in DC.