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Bread for the City Expanding

As the economic recession continues to drive up demand at food pantries and public medical clinics, one of the region's largest direct-service organizations is preparing to expand to meet the need.

Bread for the City, which provides clothing, food, medical care, legal assistance and social services to needy District residents, broke ground today on a new $8 million building that will more than double its medical clinic's capacity. The 12,000-square-foot building will be added on to the group's current facility on 7th St. NW, creating space for the group's first opthamology and dental practices and tripling the number of exam rooms.

The start of the expansion process comes just a few weeks after Bread for the City announced a series of significant cutbacks forced by the economic downturn. The agency will close on Fridays and reduce staff salaries at least 10 percent beginning next month. But Bread for the City leaders said it is important to plan for the future even as they struggle during the recession.

"When we transcend this current economic situation we will come back bigger and better," said the group's executive director, George A. Jones. "We can't afford to retreat because people need us more than ever."

Bread for the City has seen a 10 percent increase in demand for its food pantry and medical clinic over the past several months, according to medical director Randi Abramson. The clinic offers care to about 2,000 unique patients a year, which is expected to rise to 6,000 once the expansion is complete late next year.

The new building is being paid for largely by the city, with about 75 percent of construction costs coming from public dollars, Jones said. The rest of the money will come from a capital campaign that is also expected to pour much-needed dollars into the operating budget to prevent future shortfalls.

"Bread for the City does it for those for whom there is a constant recession," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) in a brief address at the groundbreaking ceremony. "I can't begin to tell you how important that is."
Megan Greenwell

By Kathryn Tolbert  |  March 25, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
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Are federal dollars being used as well? Is that why Delegate Norton spoke?

Posted by: TheCounter | March 25, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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