February 11, 2010

Weathering the Storm

Amy Johnson is the Emerson Hunger Fellow at Bread for the City. This is cross-posted from the DC Food For All.

After the initial fun of our record-breaking storm (call it a snowpocalypse, a snowsplosion, a snowmageddon...) the reality of the aftermath is uncomfortable and even scary. With many streets un-plowed, power outages across the region, and public transportation running minimally, we at Bread for the City have been unable to open for much of this week.

This year, we've been closed to client services on Fridays -- but with some luck we'll make an exception tomorrow, and open with as much capacity as we can muster. Many of our clients really need the help.

Consider Michael Mack, a gentleman living in Anacostia. “We’re in a community where the stores aren’t nearby. We have the corner stores to get what you need, but oh you pay for that.” Michael came to us last week to stock up on groceries in advance of the storm -- since he figured it would be easier to wait out the weather. But that was before the situation stretched into a week and beyond. I called Michael yesterday, and he expressed frustration: "I'm out of food. I went last Friday to get food, but now there's none left and there's now way out. There are buses running, but not near me and where I need to go."

Wanda Ford, a mother of three who lives in Anacostia, told me "it's really rough."

"We can't get out, and the street hasn't been plowed. We have enough food for right now, but I'm worried about how long it will last. It’s very hard for me, with three children." Wanda has three children (two adopted) -- which brings up a serious point that many may not think about: for a family living on a fixed income, meals at school really help provide relief from food budgeting. But with several days of school canceled, Wanda's family faces an even tougher food situation.

Not only are our clients finding this difficult, but Bread for the City found its own problems as well. On Tuesday, a gaggle of staff shoveled snow off of our roof, worried that the weight of a continued accumulation of snow could cause it to collapse on Wednesday. After two hours of back breaking shoveling and plenty of snow puns shared, the roof was cleared and ready to weather out the next storm. And the next one after that?

While Bread for the City prepares to open, other organizations are in need of volunteers! Contact Charnay Henderson at Food and Friends to help prepare and deliver meals to homebound people living with HIV/AIDS and other debilitating illnesses. Also consider reaching out to We Are Family to help seniors in need.

No comments: