The morning after visiting the DC Central Kitchen, we returned to volunteer with First Helping. Each day, DCCK vans carrying a hot breakfast go to 4 neighborhood sites where people need food.
Our van carried 2 tables, 2 insulated containers that held trays of hot food (today it was turkey and cheese sandwiches), packaged trays of donated muffins, 3 large beverage urns, and condiments for the coffee and tea. We were told that on some days the menu included hot oatmeal and fruit; sometimes there were clothes or toiletries to offer.
While we volunteers served the food, the outreach specialists mingled and talked with those who came for food. First Helping is the first rung on the ladder of DCCK’s social programs. It is a “no barrier” program; anyone who comes can receive the food. Over time, the outreach specialists build relationships with the people who come for food, making them aware that when they’re ready, DCCK has various services to offer. They may help with things like getting IDs, housing vouchers, access to veterans programs, and other programs as the person is ready. Thus, again, it’s not about the food – food is the lure that provides an opportunity to help in deeper ways.