Truly Beyond Bread

(From the archives: originally posted November 19, 2013 on WNP's previous website)

Cross-posted from Beyond Bread, the blog of Bread for the City

With lots of mixed emotion, I [Sharon Feuer Gruber] wrote a farewell letter to Bread for the City staff in July, as I moved on from being the adviser to BFC’s Nutrition Initiative. Together we challenged the way hunger relief addressed nutrition in the DC area and beyond, creating best practices that are modeled elsewhere in the region and country. None of that would have happened had it none been for my brave BFC colleagues who got behind serious nutrition standards for the food we distribute, an integrated approach to nutrition education, and innovative initiatives to increase our ability to source more nourishing foods.

The beauty of working with BFC is that even when not with staff and clients every day, the impact of the organization remains. For example, through my consulting practice, I am now collaborating with MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger on developing a national project focused on supporting hunger-relief organizations’ efforts to strengthen programs and practices around nutrition. BFC is a long-time MAZON grantee, and it is with pleasure that I note that some of the work that they supported BFC in doing is now informing the national work that we’re doing together. We are identifying best practices in innovation around procuring affordable, nutritious foods; creating an organizational culture that is committed to nutrition; conducting effective nutrition education; and more — and BFC serves as standard-bearer in so many ways. The next step will be to pilot some of those practices with a few organizations and ultimately to create a tool for use by hunger-relief groups everywhere to help them identify which practices are a suitable match for them and how to best implement them.

I also recently launched a new non-profit project that simultaneously is addressing hunger relief and environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay. When working with BFC to secure the healthiest foods possible for the food pantries, time and again we hit a wall when trying to source delicious and nutritious animal proteins in large enough quantities. That was part of the impetus of the Wide Net Project, and you can read a recent Washington Post article about it here.

The mission of Bread for the City is clearly to help low-income residents of the District of Columbia, but its broader impact is unmistakably larger.