When Handing Out Breadcoins

One obvious use of Breadcoins is to give to those who may be begging on the streets. Many people have reported that, whereas they used to avoid the glance or words of someone begging, with a pocket full of Breadcoins, they now actually hope to be asked for food.

Having Breadcoins on hand truly changes one’s heart towards those in need, moving someone from feeling impotent in the face of significant need to feeling empowered to be part of the community response to hunger.

If someone asks for money for food, one can offer a Breadcoin, explaining that it works “just like money” and that its value is $2.20, which will include the tax.

Here are some tips that folks have learned in sharing Breadcoins:

  • Handing out coins in proximity to a Breadcoin vendor is helpful so that the recipient can easily use the coins without needing to go elsewhere. We are currently in the following Washington, DC areas: Anacostia, Brookland, Foggy Bottom, Ivy City/Trinidad, Metro Center, and Union Station. We also have food trucks participating; their locations vary.
  • Several of our neighborhood teams have packaging for the coins that includes vendor information. Check with us to see if that is available in your area.
  • Generally, however, it is sufficient to point out where the closest vendor is and whether they are currently open (or when they next open). Simple directions are best. Some feel comfortable walking someone towards or to the vendor.
  • Breadcoins can be good conversation starters. Of course it can be demeaning to have someone assume anything about someone they don’t know, so we prefer to ask open-ended questions (“Have you heard of Breadcoin? Can I tell you how it works?”) instead of questions that presume a particular situation (“Do you want food?”).
  • Every Breadcoin in circulation is paid for by someone who cares that others get enough to eat. The coins come from a specific person, not from a random organization. This is heartening to people, we often find.
  • Everybody likes to give, and most people find it hard to receive. We like to frame Breadcoin conversations with the assumption that everyone will vacillate between being a recipient and a giver. Language like, “Today you may need a meal, and tomorrow you may be able to provide one for someone else” gets at that reality.
  • If someone doesn’t want the coin, and only wants money, this was still a chance to have a mutually-dignifying conversation and to make someone aware of an option they may want to use at another time. 
  • For folks that you might see regularly on the streets, it can be helpful to know that one major way we distribute Breadcoins is through nonprofits that are working in a particular area. Relationships developed with those nonprofits can often be a way to get further Breadcoins if needed. We can let you know who else is using Breadcoins in your area.