Breaking News
More () »

'I am relying on the generosity of charities and people' | DC senior speaks out about her experience with food insecurity

Robin Champion claims that she is paying more than half of her social security income towards rent which she says leaves very little money left for food.

WASHINGTON — Robin Champion walked into the Giant on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest, D.C. on Wednesday where WUSA9 was hosting a food drive alongside Bread for the City with the original intent to just buy groceries. Champion is a senior D.C. resident that experiences food insecurity and was using a gift card someone gave her to buy groceries but she discovered the food being donated could possibly be delivered to her home because she was a Bread for the City recipient.

Bread for the City is a D.C.-based organization that provides food, healthcare, legal and additional resources to residents. Champion expressed her gratitude and praised the program; however, she also said the food she received at times was “not sufficient.”

“I totally, totally understand the shortage and that you give me what you can but it’s not sufficient,” said Champion.

Weekly, Bread for the City serves about 5,000-6,000 households per week for food services, according to Ashley Domm, Chief Development Officer for Bread for the City. The organization has also seen an increase in people that are in need of their services since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

According to Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Report 2022, around 36% of people in D.C. experienced some form of food insecurity.

Champion said she was laid off from her job in 2017 and is a recipient of Bread for the city. She now receives her social security benefits but continues to stretch dollars throughout the month to feed and house herself. Champion claims that she is paying more than half of her social security income towards rent which she says leaves very little money left for food.

“I am relying on the generosity of charities and people. There is shame involved with that, in being hungry,” Champion expressed.

RELATED: WUSA9 kickstarts food insecurity relief initiative | Giving Matters

Along with being a recipient of Bread for the City, Champion is part of other food assistance programs in the city such as Produce Plus. Additionally, Champion stated that she frequents her local senior center which provides free lunch every day. At times, because the staff knows she experiences food insecurity, Champion said that they will give her extra food or gift cards to purchase additional food for herself.

Sometimes Champion must “do without” any food at times where she doesn’t have enough money to pay bills and feed herself. She claims she has cut back on eating meat and buys more of beans and rice because the prices have risen due to inflation.

“And that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that really. I can be a vegetarian. I know a lot of people can’t afford meat today. It’s like I said, I’m grateful for what I have. I’m blessed to have a place to live. I’m not on the street. I have good medical care, you guys [Bread for the City] do a wonderful program. I have good neighbors [and] I’m just grateful,” said Champion.

Because of her situation, she often has her food delivered to her from Bread for the City. The organization provides food delivery as an option for its recipients. Domm said about 80% of the food that is given away is delivered, according to Domm. Bread for the City delivers groceries for its recipients to “have access to fresh [and] healthy groceries [and] where they can make the kind of food they want,” said Domm.

Champion said she gets around the city by mainly Metro access because she requires using a cane and at times has to take two buses to get to the grocery store.

“That’s life,” she stated.

Champion continued to state that she feels that seniors like herself are overlooked while living in Ward 3 because it is known to be a wealthier area of the city, however, she expressed that low-income seniors, especially ones that have disabilities can feel slighted and struggle to access necessities. Champion said she would like to see more resources given regardless of someone’s zip code or ward.

Many were eager to donate to help provide relief to food insecurity in their community during the food drive. Gloria, a retired teacher who taught for 40 years in the District and whose family instilled the value of service and giving donated a shopping cart full of groceries.

“It’s not about the amount, it’s about the need. The need is great,” said Gloria.

RELATED: ‘Share the wealth’ | Northern Virginia food pantry combats food insecurity in the DMV

WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.
Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.

Before You Leave, Check This Out