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How Thrive DC Partnered with Capital Area Food Bank to Alleviate Hunger

Posted on March 10, 2022

At Thrive DC, our primary strategy to prevent and end homelessness in DC is providing clients with the ability to meet all of their basic needs in the form of a “one-stop shop.” This is a big mission - we could not exist without partners who support us and increase our capacity to serve. Capital Area Food Bank is one of those partners, helping address our clients' needs of hunger and health. 

With a mission to help their neighbors thrive by creating more equitable access to food, CAFB has been a consistent partner of Thrive DC since the beginning of the pandemic. Their strategy has three main pillars: gathering food donations from their community, organizing and preparing these donations in their distribution center, and utilizing both their own food programs, as well as other nonprofit food assistance partners, to ensure that food gets to where the community needs it most. 

Before COVID-19, food insecurity in DC was less an issue of coverage and more an issue of alignment. CAFB and organizations like it weren’t necessarily focused on acquiring enough food, but ensuring that the food gets to where it needs to go.

That changed in March 2020. All of a sudden food insecurity became a huge concern for families who had been living on the edge and were now uncertain how they were going to make it. Thrive DC began seeing hundreds of people lining up for groceries outside of our door as people all across the region were unsure where their next meal would come from.

In response, CAFB pivoted their strategy and began packaging emergency boxes containing enough shelf-stable food to feed a family of four for up to 5 days. At the same time, Thrive DC began their partnership with CAFB in an emergency effort to distribute these boxes to members of the community as quickly and safely as possible. 

Now, two years later, Thrive DC is meeting a critical need of CAFB's as a sub-distribution center. 

Because many smaller organizations in the district don’t have the proper facilities to receive donations from CAFB, Thrive DC acts as a “middle man” of sorts. Each week. CAFB drops off hundreds of emergency boxes that Thrive then distributes to smaller nonprofits, allowing healthy food to penetrate the communities that need them most. At the height of the pandemic, Thrive DC was serving thousands of people this way with over a dozen small group community groups like Ward 1’s Mutual Aid Society, the Alliance for Concerned Men, and Blessed Sacrament.

This partnership not only allows a greater linkage between community-based organizations in DC, but it ensures that there is better alignment of resources to the neighborhoods that are in the greatest need.

[Our] partnership with Thrive DC is extremely important to our neighbors in Ward 1. Thrive has also become a hotspot to immigrant families to secure their groceries. They continuously up their numbers to feed more and more families every single day. We’re grateful and appreciate our partnership. - CAFB.

CAFB shares a similar mission as Thrive DC: to see community members flourish. The pandemic may have brought challenges, but it has also encouraged organizations to find common ground, partner up, and help each other fill gaps. As the old adage goes, two is better than one!

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