Dreaming Out Loud, Inc. is working to recover over 226,000 kilograms of food with support from ReFED’s COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund. In the wake of COVID-19, the nonprofit is using recovered food to alleviate hunger and unemployment in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.
The majority of food-insecure individuals in the nation’s capital are Black and living in Wards 7 and 8, according to D.C. Hunger Solutions. Before the pandemic, one in seven households in D.C. lacked access to nutritious and affordable food, they report.
But as unemployment surges due to COVID-19 shutdowns, food insecurity is predicted to rise by 48 to 60 percent in the region, according to the latest Capital Area Food Bank report. “We’ve seen a deepening crisis,” Christopher Bradshaw, Founder and Executive Director of Dreaming Out Loud, tells Food Tank.
Established in 2009, Dreaming Out Loud works to build racial and economic justice in the nation’s capital by uplifting Black farmers and entrepreneurs in the food industry. Prior to the pandemic, they operated an urban farm, farmer’s market, and Black Farm CSA.
In response to COVID-19, the nonprofit is coordinating food recovery from large companies, such as Whole Foods, whose products would otherwise go to waste.
ReFED, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste in the United States, launched its COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund earlier this year to support food waste recovery during the pandemic. With help from ReFED, Dreaming Out Loud is able to send recovered food to Black-owned food businesses. In turn, these businesses make meals for the hungry in D.C.
“We have four Black woman-owned businesses supporting 15 Black workers making emergency meals,” Bradshaw tells Food Tank.
To safely distribute food, the nonprofit converted its farmers market into a drive-through CSA. They are distributing over 2,000 CSA shares each week this way through DC Greens, a D.C. health program that provides produce for low-income residents. Partnering with a local restaurant, Little Sesame, the nonprofit also operates a food truck that provides free meals to students around the city.
He says they have distributed more than 200,000 meals and thousands of pounds of groceries since the start of the pandemic.
“Recovered food helps in terms of food security,” Bradshaw explains, “to be able to reduce costs of meal production means we can make more meals…and get that to a mutual aid group for a family in need.”
Photo Courtesy of Dreaming Out Loud, Inc.