The Capital Area Food Bank’s 2012 Metropolitan Area Hunger Conference, held April 20 at The Catholic University of America, proudly united community leaders from DC, Maryland and Virginia under the theme “Unify, Testify, Fortify: Adding Value to Your Nonprofit.” During the morning, participants cheered the food bank’s impending move to its new food distribution center, which will greatly increase food storage and distribution capabilities, and honored CAFB President and CEO Lynn Brantley with a heartfelt video tribute from partners and friends.
During workshops on advocacy, partners learned about effective ways to influence the legislative process from a panel of experts led by Dr. Stephen Schneck, of CUA’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. Caryn Long, senior policy counsel at Feeding America, and Brian Banks, director of public policy and community outreach at the food bank, informed partners about the state of the Farm Bill negotiations and invited partners to participate in the Community Outreach Council, a group organized to inform communities and legislators about threats to safety- net programs.
One of the most innovative new models of feeding those in need was presented by The Rev. Nancy Yarnell of Food Security for America, who led an in-depth workshop on food cooperatives, a method of creating long-term food security for groups of families. The food bank’s new Healthy Eating Department gave an overview of its initiatives: source more healthy food, provide education and trainings around that food, and utilize the educational spaces in the new facility to host nutrition and food growing educational events.
In the afternoon, Healthy Eating Department Director Susan Topping outlined how the nutrition initiatives will benefit the CAFB partner network. Laine Cidlowski of the DC Office of Planning also presented partners with details about the new Sustainable DC vision for the city, including governmental efforts to increase dramatically access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Banks presented the threats to food security programs such as SNAP and TEFAP coming before Congress. When he asked conference attendees to take action, Joan Conway, coordinator of the St. Camillus Catholic Church food pantry in Silver Spring, MD, called one of her senators, Ben Cardin, and let his office know that despite his promises of support, she needed him to “be an even bigger advocate” for protecting these programs. Having witnessed a 20 percent rise in demand at her pantry in the past three years, she felt it was time for a “take no prisoners” approach.
The food bank thanked Kenneth Jones, public affairs manager for Rent-A-Center, and the whole RAC team for their generous donation of 12 refrigerators for use by partner agencies to increase storage capacity.
The food bank was also proud to congratulate the first four partners to achieve “Top Shelf” certification, the premier training program for improving the operations of feeding programs. We thank all participants from the conference and invite you to attend our next one, the Northern Virginia Hunger Summit, on Friday, September 28.
Top Shelf Award Recipients and Presenters
Front Row (L-R): Gwen Pope and Adrienne Williams, Shabach! Emergency Resource and Empowerment Center; Joan Conway, St. Camillus Catholic Church; Greg Ten Eyck, Chair of the CAFB Board of Directors
Back Row (L-R): Wayne Marks, Covenant Community Food Pantry; Velma Speight and McKinley Crudup, Allen Chapel AME Church