Food is Good—But Even Better with a Side of Collaboration - Capital Area Food Bank
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Food is Good—But Even Better with a Side of Collaboration

By Kirsten Bourne February 23, 2015

justiceThe Capital Area Food Bank proudly sponsored and participated in the DC Fair Budget Coalition’s Service to Justice Conference, which was held on Jan. 30 – 31. DC Regional Coordinator Amy Hedges convened leaders from CAFB’s Ward 7 food assistance partners for the “Fellowship and Food: Building Alliances among the Faith Based Pantries in Ward 7” panel which focused on collaborations between the CAFB and its partners.
In 2014, CAFB partners in Ward 7 distributed over 601,000 pounds of food – which when divided into 30 pound bags means church volunteers handed a big bag of food to someone in need 20,000 times last year. Picture that!
One panelist, Willie Clark of Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist, spoke to how grateful he was for the CAFB partnership, which he said “has given us a framework, and logic, for giving food. With their help, we’re not just pushing out food—we’re giving recipes and talking about health.”
This increase in capacity was echoed by Muriel Francis of Redeemed Christian Church of God New Wine Assembly who offered, “We recently added a second distribution, and my organization has increased the amount we distribute by 107%. Overall, Ward 7 has increased the amount of food it’s distributing by 50%.”
The panelists spoke of benefits that extend beyond the bags of food the CAFB makes available to its 500 food assistance partners. Ms. Francis stated, “Our clients love the recipes provided by CAFB. They’re realizing they need to dial back on the fried fish, the fatback. A lot of clients have said that they actually feel better.”
One benefit of being not only a CAFB partner, but also part of the collaborative meetings the CAFB organizes across its service area, is the pooling of information. Yvonne Brown of Food & Clothing Center, Peace Lutheran said, “By being in the Ward 7 Collaborative, partners who didn’t already know about grants available were able to hear about them and apply.”
Encouraging feedback usually comes with a request or two, and CAFB was there to listen. For example, Yvonne Scott of Church of the Incarnation, St. Vincent de Paul Society asserted that they would like the CAFB to deliver the free fruits and vegetables offered for pickup at its warehouse.
Here at the food bank, we value this kind of feedback. If you are a CAFB food assistance partner and you haven’t heard about a collaborative near you, ask us so we have an excuse to see you more often and better serve your needs!
We can tell you about our quarterly collaborative meetings for partners in Maryland; Prince Williams County, VA (with plans for an Alexandria city and Fairfax county collaborative meeting soon); and in Wards 7 and 8 in the District.