Faith & Blue Weekend

Faith & Blue Weekend

Something happens when people eat together. And walls fall when people pray together for our police officers. We had a weekend full of both as part of the National Faith & Blue Weekend, October 9-12, which found Breadcoin really engaged in conversations, gatherings, celebrations, and happenings around town.

We loved being part of an event where folks were listening to music together on the corner of Benning Road & 19th Streets, NE last Friday night as outreach officers from the Metropolitan Police Department’s 5th District handed out Breadcoins for folks to use at area restaurants including Royal Rooster, Langston Bar & Grille, and Wings ‘N More Wings in exchange for “spinning the wheel” and answering trivia questions. Police Chief Peter Newsham was in attendance as he made his rounds throughout the city for multiple events as part of that  special weekend. 

We had started the week helping out at the National Law Enforcement Museum, stuffing packets of gifts of health and wellness for unsheltered DC folks, items that were handed out by outreach officers throughout the city.

We gathered with MPD’s 4D, outreach led by Derek Staten, at an event where pastors from Emory Fellowship (Pastor Joe Daniels), Nativity Catholic (Father Pawel Sass) and Harvest Life Fellowship (our own Pastor William Spence) shared words and prayers, celebrating partnerships that are growing beyond normal denominational boundaries, partnerships that include meaningful engagement with Staten’s team on the streets of the Georgia Avenue corridor. Cary Umhau on our team read a passage from her spiritual memoir, Burning Down the Fireproof Hotel, about the role of simply being present to the pain of the world.

Monday midday found us back at the National Law Enforcement Museum and Memorial grounds for what we call a “flash table,” a beautifully set banquet where people can relax, meet each other and eat, in this case a fabulous barbecue lunch from one of our vendors, BBQBusDC. Officers from 1D joined folks from the streets and from churches including Grace Capital City, St. Brendan’s in the City, and Harvest Life Fellowship.

The inaugural Faith & Blue weekend was a chance to take steps, no matter how small, towards one another, beyond the boundaries that we know, feel and that have been so real this summer. A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. Or one shared meal.

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!

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.”

Our First Loan Payoff

Our First Loan Payoff

Breadcoin had a glorious celebration of our three-year partnership with the Central Union Mission, DC and of the payoff of our first microloan, the lease of a food trailer for their Mission Muffins enterprise.

WGTS 91.9 was broadcasting live, and we love the wonderful work they do in the community, including their current sock drive! They interviewed Cary Umhau, one of our co-founders, about our work, introducing their listeners to the idea of becoming Breadcoin members.

Our team, friends, Breadcoin and Mission fans cheered over the key moment when our founder Scott Borger handed over the deed to the trailer to Mission President/CEO Joe Mettimano.

We consider our partnership with the Mission a match made in heaven.

Kipp DC, Partner

Kipp DC, Partner

Breadcoin and KIPP DC, a charter school, have an exciting new partnership.

Our donor-funded Breadcoins go into the hands of the counseling staff at each of the three schools that serve Pre-K to eighth grade on the KIPP DC: Webb Campus in the Ivy City neighborhood.

They in turn have the opportunity to give Breadcoins to families that find themselves with “too much month at the end of the money” or to use them to incentivize behaviors (in this case attendance and punctuality) that will improve learning.

Catch the enthusiasm of the KIPP DC: Spring Academy staff that created this video to explain the “On Time” challenge that rewards kids who are on time with Breadcoins to spend on a hearty treat at one of our newest vendors, Texas Chicken and Burgers, just down the block.

A “community response to hunger” is how we describe Breadcoin, and this partnership is the epitome of that.

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.

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

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 

The Breadcoin Approach

The Breadcoin Approach

The vision of Breadcoin is to connect businesses that are feeding our community with people who want to give to those in need. A system that began in DC with a pilot location around Union Station is also being customized to fit Portland, Oregon’s thriving food scene and community needs. We are also excited about new possibility in Tampa, Florida.

Most people face a dilemma when asked for money for food. They aren’t sure how to engage someone in need, and they aren’t sure that giving money is wise. Giving breadcoins ensures that people are actually receiving food with money they receive. Breadcoins work like cash but are not legal tender.

A small card is provided along with the breadcoin to direct the recipient to one or more of the with a map of those vendors’ locations.

Photo: grw view photography