Children’s National Hospital Is Now Giving and Receiving Breadcoins

Children’s National Hospital Is Now Giving and Receiving Breadcoins

Children’s National Hospital is participating in a groundbreaking usage of the Breadcoin food token, a tool to feed the community. Children’s, beginning today, is both a distribution partner and a Breadcoin vendor.

Imagine a scenario where someone already struggling to pay for food for their family has a child admitted to the hospital or who needs to visit there regularly for treatment. In addition to food-insecurity, now there is the stress inherent in a potentially frightening situation and, also, the need to eat meals in or around the hospital during the confinement.

Enter Breadcoin.

Social workers at Children’s, under the direction of Gayle Gilmore (Manager of Family Services) and Brenda Shepherd-Vernon (Director, Social Work, Chaplaincy and Language Services) are using Breadcoins to give a range of food options to these families they serve. The Breadcoins can be used directly in the hospital during a stay or at other vendors around DC and Baltimore to allow these families in crisis situations to get a meal on the way home, the next day or as needed. This alleviates that extra stress of “how will I feed the family?” at a time when a child is sick.

Ryan Maddock, who oversees the Emergency Department’s social work component, and Heidi Colbert, who leads Outpatient Dialysis social workers, will be piloting the use of the coins in their departments first, and as additional funding is added from our generous Breadcoin members, Children’s will be able to extend the use of Breadcoins to satellite locations and other departments, giving more and more families access to an additional way to get food around a stressful hospital stay.

The Dr. Bear’s Café and Café Express accept Breadcoins like cash for their $2.20 value. Families can choose what to eat including a salad from the Salad Robot! As with all our vendors, our Breadcoin team collects the Breadcoins redeemed by recipients and pays Morrison Healthcare, which is flexibly innovating to adapt this additional way for its employees to help feed the community through the Breadcoin food token. We appreciate the work of Genevieve Potvin, Senior Director of Nutrition Services, and Cheryl Brown, Assistant Director of Operations, on Morrison’s end, who have worked to implement the plan.

And we are excited about the potential of this micro-economy within the hospital (and beyond) that links those who are hungry or food-insecure with an extra level of care by the hospital social work department and a food service company that cares about more than the bottom line.

The possibilities are limitless in this partnership where the need is great. The ability to help hurting families thrills everybody involved. Thank you to our current Breadcoin members who make this partnership (and so many other nonprofit partnerships) possible.


To become a Breadcoin member for $25/month and put more coins into the hands of social workers in relationship with families with a child being treated at Children’s, click here.

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.

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!

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

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl Team Up

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl Team Up

Breadcoin partnered with DC legend, Ben’s Chili Bowl during the government shutdown in January, 2019 to ensure that workers without paychecks could receive a meal.

Founded in 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a landmark DC restaurant that has provided meals and much more to the community for over 60 years. We’re launching our partnership on MLK Day, Monday, January 21st in the spirit of Dr. King and Ben’s long history of giving back to the community.

Breadcoin and Ben’s Chili Bowl are excited to be among the people and businesses engaging the community to meet its needs.

Feeding Feds During Shutdown Initiative

Feeding Feds During Shutdown Initiative

Join us in making a difference! Breadcoin Foundation, a DC-based nonprofit, is providing a way for the community to feed unpaid TSA and other government employees and support staff during the shutdown.

Breadcoins are a food token that you purchase and give to someone in need.  They can also be given to nonprofits meeting needs.  In this case, your donation will help make an impact by providing funding to immediately feed and encourage beleaguered government workers, who have just missed their first paycheck.

We are raising $7000 to provide a meal for any TSA or other government employee working without pay.  In conjunction with committed, participating food vendors, your funds will go toward putting enough Breadcoins in the hands of these workers, with about five coins ($2.20 value each) providing a complete meal at the airport.

Government employees can receive food tokens valued under $20 under the governmental ethics guidelines.  We want to thank them for their service and let them know that the public appreciates their work under stressful conditions and without pay.  This is but one example of Breadcoins being used as a tool to link community needs with generous folks wanted to meet those needs.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to this cause that means so much to the team that serves to make Breadcoin happen.

Anacostia Community Clean-up Day

Anacostia Community Clean-up Day

Community has always been at the heart of Breadcoin’s mission. The community food tokens are designed to foster engagement, generating face-to-face connections between people of all walks of life who call the same city home. That’s why it felt natural to team up with some other local community organizations to help spread the word about Breadcoin, and to help Breadcoin better know and understand our community here in the DMV area.

Recently, we gathered at the steps of Kramer Middle School in Anacostia on a chilly Saturday morning for a community clean-up organized by Code 3, a nonprofit started by retired police officers to help build better relationships between the police and members of the communities they serve. Armed with rakes, brooms, and sturdy work gloves, we walked the streets picking up trash and clearing debris, chatting with curious neighbors along the way.

Afterwards, we warmed up together over burgers and hot dogs grilled outside and shared by all who walked by. There was a small farmer’s market offering fresh oranges, tomatoes, lettuce, and sweet potatoes, along with canned goods and other dried foods, all of it generously donated by Serve DMV, an outreach arm of McLean Bible Church, which shares Breadcoin’s mission to ensure that none of our neighbors go hungry. We were also joined by Captain Cookie – one of Breadcoin’s newest vendors – whose baby blue food truck filled with mouth-watering homemade cookies and ice cream in classic flavors proved to be the hit of the day.

What felt most remarkable about the event was the sense of unity among the various groups represented, and the ease with which we melded together our shared commitment to community. There was no battle for prominence, nor any attempts to outshine one another in the overpopulated arena of non-profits operating in the DC region. Everyone played their part with enthusiasm, graciousness, and humility, recognizing that when it comes to community, we are each, at best, only one small piece of a complex, living puzzle.

That’s how we see ourselves at Breadcoin. That’s why we welcome partnerships and outreach events and the chance to team up with others to talk about our common hopes for our city. It’s a modern-day echo of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, reminding us that when we seek the welfare of those around us, we too will prosper.

We’re excited to keep spreading the word about Breadcoin, and to see more and more tokens in circulation on our streets. But ultimately, we’re most excited about how this incredible community of retired cops, pastors, teachers, mentors, students, economists, authors, ice-cream truck vendors, and so many others are working together for the shared prosperity of us all.

Story: Colleen Borovsky; Photo: Yuri Borovsky

Ali’s Hot Dog Stand

Ali’s Hot Dog Stand

Can a hot dog change a city?

It’s not an idea you’ll hear discussed on Capitol Hill, but a new vendor in downtown Metro Center believes it’s true.

In his old life, Ali was an Arabic professor at a university here in D.C. Today, he spends his days inside a tiny metal stand at the bustling corner of F St. and 10th St. NW, where he sells hot dogs, hot pretzels, chips, cookies, ice cream, and bottled drinks to downtown workers, shoppers, tourists, and locals.

Ali thinks that nothing is more important than how we treat one another as fellow human beings. He sees a lot of need in D.C. Hungry, homeless, and hopeless folks are a common sight, and he has a heart for helping them all. But he wasn’t comfortable giving out money, unsure whether it would go towards necessities or to fuel harmful behaviors. That’s why he was excited when he heard about Breadcoin – coins that can be exchanged for food at participating vendors. Though breadcoins are not legal tender, they work just like money does at Ali’s stand and at other vendors.

Anyone can purchase breadcoins and give them out – to a hungry stranger, to a friend or co-worker, or to a nonprofit. Ali’s Hot Dog Stand is one of a handful of participating vendors located throughout the city where people can purchase food using the coins. One breadcoin is enough to buy one of Ali’s hearty hot dogs loaded with ketchup, mustard, relish, cheese, and chili sauce, if desired. Arguably one of the best deals in town!

He believes that we change our communities person-by-person, hot-dog-by-hot-dog. By giving someone something to eat, you’re doing much more than just feeding an empty stomach (a worthwhile goal in itself); you’re also showing dignity to that person – telling them that they matter, that they are worth your time, that they deserve kindness and respect. That’s a simple message with transformative potential, and one that is far too often lacking amidst the fast-paced, consumer-driven streets of downtown D.C.

A natural conversationalist, Ali will happily engage any customer as he prepares their order – in an impressive variety of languages. Next time you’re in the area, stop by for an inexpensive lunch and to learn more about how Ali and others are partnering with Breadcoin to make sure that none of our neighbors go hungry. It just might be the crazy, little idea that changes Washington.

Story: Colleen Borovsky; Photo: Sharon Gustafson

Announcing Two New Vendors

Announcing Two New Vendors

WASHINGTON, DC – A DC-based organization announced two new participating vendors in Washington, D.C. accepting breadcoin tokens as payment for food and drinks at their establishments. Cary Umhau (pictured above) is enjoying a hot dog at Ali’s Hot Dog Stand.

Breadcoin is excited to welcome the new vendors. We are thankful for all of the food providers committed to the DC community. Please check out all of the participating locations in the Breadcoin Network.

The new vendors are:

Ali’s Hot Dog Stand
corner of 10th St. & F St., NW

Captain Cookie and the Milkman
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
3 food trucks in various DC-area locations.

Restorative Giving

Restorative Giving

Breadcoin is an organization established to return an upside down financial system right side up through the issuance of a giving token. Breadcoin intends to fuse global finance with the character of local barter and usher in a new era of restorative giving that meets people’s needs. It refocuses the foundations of finance toward feeding people and returns basic value to a medium of exchange.

If you believe in a network of people committed to the basic needs of people, to the distribution of daily bread, and to the idea of restorative giving, we ask that you join the Breadcoin movement. Volunteer within the distribution network; sign up donors and vendors within your community; invest in spaces that accept Breadcoin (e.g., food courts, bakeries, or pop-up restaurants); or commit to receiving an automatic allotment of tokens to give to those most in need.

We live in the upside down world of global finance, where interest rates turn negative and central banks purchase corporate bonds and equities, where policymakers concern themselves with global liquidity more than with the daily sustenance of their people, where lower long-term interest rates shift the incentive to save and untether the value of assets. It is a world where the resilience of the economy depends on household consumption. The same households that have been left without a capital cushion. A world where management protects themselves and their bottom line by ensuring their employees’ jobs are not protected. On which side of the line do you stand? Will your community fight for the hungry or the fed?

Photo: Yuri Borovsky