DC Food Pantry Pauses Service to Give Workers a Post-Pandemic Break

NBC Universal, Inc.

A D.C. nonprofit paused its food pantry services this week to allow its staff to regroup mentally after three years of tireless work during the pandemic.

“This has been a really hard time,” Bread for the City Social Services Director Tracy Knight said. “Folks haven’t been able to rest and pause. Our services never really stopped.”

Its services have been in high demand across the District since COVID-19 hit.

“Our numbers really shot up,” Knight said. “We were averaging around 250 households each day, and over the course of the pandemic, we rose up to about 1,600.”

Pausing this work was not a decision taken lightly, but there’s still help for those who need it.

“We’ve had some really wonderful partnerships with other food pantries who have offered to help us out and so we’ve made sure that our clients have places to go during this month-long pause,” Knight said.

The time off also will allow staff to implement a new and improved system for its food pantry.

“When we open up, it’s going to be like a supermarket-style pantry so that the clients can come in and get whatever they want,” Food Inventory and Fleet Manager Keith Lemons said. “It’s client choice.”

Bread for the City’s other services – like its medical, behavioral and legal clinics – are not impacted by the pause.

“This is like a safe haven to a lot of people that they can come in and get all type of services they need,” Lemons said. “Without going from A to B, they can just come to A.”

The hope is when the food pantry reopens April 18, staff will be well rested and ready to pick right back up where they left off.

“We have to have staff who are healthy and rested and able to really show that commitment that they all show every day when they come to work,” Knight said.

Contact Us