Summer in the 5th District

Summer in the 5th District

Summer has seen much action with the always-creative and hardworking Outreach Team of the Metropolitan Police Department’s 5th district.

Officers Ishby, Hamilton and others are always looking for new ways to live out the “We are here to help” motto, and Breadcoin has been a significant part of their strategy as they use Breadcoins to feed hungry folks and treat kids who may be out and about without lots of food. They are using Breadcoins at public health and fitness events, giving them directly to homeless residents on the streets, setting up events where they build relationships and answer questions residents may have.

The 5D Outreach Team along with Captain Merrill engaged 52 Carver/Langston residents in a fun trivia game designed to spark conversation as part of the District’s coronavirus response. As a gift, bags of toiletries and food along with Breadcoins were provided as new relationships were built.

At another event 5D’s Outreach Team along with Captain Merrill addressed food insecurities for over 60 residents in PSA 507. Residents enjoyed an opportunity to get a free meal from Breadcoin vendor partner, Royal Rooster, in exchange for answering trivia questions. The Captain was able to answer over 60 questions for residents which led to meaningful conversations.

Officers have gotten food from Captain Cookie and OMG Latin Flavors, also Breadcoin vendors, and fed families and kids with that.

At the heart of Breadcoin are partners like the Washington DC Police Foundation, with officers like these in 5D on the front lines of caring for folks in need.

We’re in Baltimore Now!

We’re in Baltimore Now!

Breadcoin has moved into its second major city with our spread into Baltimore, a natural next step and easy fit in a city where so many are working together to alleviate hunger and to care for those experiencing homelessness too. Just like in DC we are not only a coin for the homeless. All hungry people (and those who simply want to support the network) are welcome to use or give Breadcoins. They are truly a stigma-free way to be sure all are fed.

Our first Baltimore vendors are Crazy John’s and Natural Choice Deli, both on “the block,” the 400 E. Baltimore Street block downtown. Mainstays of the area, both give good value for the Breadcoins submitted for payment, with the possibility of a hearty breakfast or other sandwich or several large chicken tenders for just a couple of Breadcoins. Long hours, a huge variety of food — these vendors immediately began accepting Breadcoins. 

We are grateful to have a Baltimore Captain, William Spruill, formerly of DC and working with us in Anacostia, who will oversee neighborhood distributions and vendor relations. We are thrilled to be working with a local nonprofit BeMoreCaring as a significant distribution partner, and are also gaining other partners, involved churches, faithful volunteers and potential vendors in Baltimore, which really adapted to this quite fast.

Pastor Jay Baylor, of Apostles in the City, is working linking churches and others who want to sponsor food distributions through a partnership with Blessings of Hope in Lancaster, PA. Those churches are hosting drive-up/walk-up opportunities for folks to come out and get big boxes of fresh food. That’s another way Breadcoin is involved, particularly during this Covid-19 crisis, in Baltimore as well as in DC.

A team of interested and involved folks is growing, and you are welcome to join us for our monthly Baltimore Breadcoin Zoom call. Email us for more information or to volunteer.

As always the work in Baltimore is funded by the generous monthly donors we call members because they truly do belong to something special and help this community response thrives. Join us, will you? Every $25 monthly membership puts 10 Breadcoins into the hands of a nonprofit that can give them to hungry folks to use for meals.

Langston Area Explosion

Langston Area Explosion

Pastor William Spence, board member, Breadcoin leader and neighborhood captain too (and those are only his Breadcoin jobs; did we mention he ably leads Harvest Life Fellowship?)… well he’s been busy signing up new Breadcoin vendors.

The corner of Benning Roads and 19th Street, NE now has not one but three Breadcoin vendors — Royal Rooster, Wings ‘N More Wings, and Langston Bar and Grille. Each accepts Breadcoins for payment, giving area folks a variety of options for using their Breadcoins. We are partial, respectively, to the cheese steak sandwich, the wings and the sliders, all priced for just a few Breadcoins.

Breadcoin food tokens are given to hungry folks to use at such vendors by our nonprofit partners. A particularly active partner in the Langston neighborhood is the Washington DC Police Foundation and we see 5th District Metropolitan Police Department outreach officers using coins at these vendors to help feed folks with whom they are doing anti-crime initiatives, youth mentoring, or just checking in on families isolated at home.

Stop on over to any of these places and meet the friendly staffs and eat something good. Tell them Breadcoin sent you!

Food and groceries distribution events

Food and groceries distribution events

Working together with a number of partners, we are excited to be operating in an additional way during this pandemic time.

Folks are driving and walking up to various locations in the city, with different church and nonprofit partners hosting the events, and leaving with boxes full of healthy, fresh food, milk, canned goods and sustenance for the week ahead.

Here’s how it’s been working. We are working with Jay Baylor, a priest from Apostles in the City in Baltimore, who is aggregating food through an organization called Blessings of Hope in Pennsylvania. Adding milk and eggs to fresh produce, boxes are packed and prepared for shipment. Jay works with us and other partners in Baltimore and DC to plan where a truckload will go and who will “sponsor” it, paying for and preparing to hand out the boxes that arrive.

Volunteers gather and are oriented around safety procedures and an attitude and atmosphere of hospitable welcome for the guests. They unload the truck and get ready for the folks to show up to the advertised location to get their free food.

As the parking lot empties out, everybody goes home — whether with a full box of groceries or simply with some tired but satisfied shoulders.

It’s been powerful to see all the different “players” show up each week to join our own team, whether a nonprofit with lots of people to invite, a church with a large parking lot, volunteers and long tables, or somebody with a van to deliver a few boxes to organizations that didn’t have their own vehicle.

It works! 

Recently volunteers and organizers (some pictured below) have included people from DC Dream Center, King’s Church, DC; Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, Wounded No More, and others.


Mother’s Day Surprise

Mother’s Day Surprise

The outreach team from the 5th District of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department paid surprise visits to seniors and others in their area, dispensing roses, candles, and cookies and muffins from Breadcoin vendor Mission Muffins.

This Mother’s Day surprise was an encouragement to the women, especially during a pandemic!

A partnership between the Washington, DC Police Foundation and Breadcoin has provided the officers with a new tool to use in building positive community relationships, feeding people and showing up to let people know they care.

During this challenging time for small businesses, Breadcoin vendors, including Mission Muffins (which is doing its business by online orders with delivery or pickup) have stayed open. A win/win for partners like the DC Police Foundation and for vendors too!

Message from the Founder

Message from the Founder

Breadcoin’s founder on why Breadcoin was created for such a time as this:

Scott Borger is a Ph.D. economist who in 2016 partnered with Cary Umhau to create the Breadcoin food token that is feeding the community, supporting local food vendors, and providing loans to businesses that might not otherwise have access to credit.

In this video, Scott talks about how we can respond to the COVID-19 health emergency through a community response to hunger.

Breadcoin Microloans

Breadcoin Microloans

Investors help vendors grow their businesses with low-interest loans that are paid back in Breadcoins.

A unique feature of Breadcoin is our microloan program. We match investors with needs and desires that our vendors have to grow their businesses.

Vendors with whom we’ve established a relationship are eligible to apply for these micro loans. Preference is given to businesses in low-income areas where food choices are often more limited; that is where we are focused anyway. We also appreciate being able to create opportunities for those who would find traditional avenues for lending inaccessible or burdensome.

Our Breadcoin investors receive their money back with interest, paid in Breadcoins. This is an ideal scenario for those who are committed to giving over and over — helping a business grow and then feeding many more people with the returns on that investment.

Contact Scott Borger to learn more about this loan program.


Photo: grwview photography

More about Mama’s

More about Mama’s

‘Cooking With Love’ For Anacostia Residents At Mama’s Pizza Kitchen

We love this radio story from several years ago about our vendor Mama’s Pizza Kitchen, which is still going strong (and now accepting Breadcoins). Listen in to Rebecca Sheir of WAMU.

Here’s a snippet:

Musa and Fatima have been in business in Anacostia since 2012. Here at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and V Street SE, they serve up fresh pizza, lasagna, sandwiches, wings and barbecue, for take-out, delivery or dining in.

“Mama does everything from scratch,” Musa explains. “It’s just like at home, I’m telling you.”

Membership Model

Membership Model

Much of Breadcoin was obvious from the beginning:

  • We certainly knew the “why” (people are hungry, and we all can and should meet one another’s needs).
  • We knew where we would start (where our team was, in Washington, DC). We knew that there are many good-hearted people who want to feed and care for others (and that sometimes they don’t know quite how).
  • We knew that the government isn’t meeting all the needs.
  • And we knew that almost all of the most meaningful work happens at a local level, neighbor-to-neighbor, through invested relationships and not “us and them” thinking where one person is always the giver and another is always a receiver.

What has evolved is our methodology. That has been a matter of trial-and-error and of learning from those on the ground, seeing what plays out in reality vs. in theory in the most efficient, humane and dignified way.

Where we have landed is a membership model.

Yes, Breadcoins are (still) a great tool for someone walking down the street  who encounters a person asking for money for food. We have always appreciated and prioritized having a physical token that one person could hand to another, hand to hand, eye to eye, and that could lead to meaningful conversation and, should the recipient want it, also lead to them receiving a mea at a vendor of their choice.

But there are far more people who want to help feed everyone, folks who don’t necessarily encounter the hungry directly in their day to day lives. And that’s where “membership” comes in. People commit to monthly donations of $25/month which puts ten Breadcoins in the hands of our neighborhood precinct teams. These teams are responsible for building a network of care within their area, linking the hungry with nonprofits that serve them (but that don’t necessarily have hunger as the main issue they are addressing), churches, and the food vendors that are at the heart of our model in a neighborhood (the place where the magic happens and a hungry person is fed and treated without stigma and with dignity, like any customer).

So people can purchase coins to use themselves or, through membership, can fund the coins that the on-the-ground folks distribute (with distribution based on prior months’ redemption rates). The teams that are most effectively getting Breadcoins into the hands of those who actually use them are the ones who get more coins to give.

Join us, will you? There are so many people who are hungry, and YOU can feed some every month.


Photo: Sharon Gustafson