- June 10, 2020
It is after much contemplation, reflection and dialogue that we send this message to you today. We envision a community where everyone who is seriously ill has the nourishment they need. This starts with our service of delivering medically tailored meals and groceries, but it does not stop there. To truly be nourished and well, one must have security and dignity in all facets of life.
As a diverse community of staff, volunteers, clients and supporters, Food & Friends stands in solidarity with those seeking justice in the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless other black men and women whose lives have been stolen as a result of racially motivated brutality. We strongly condemn the racism and bigotry that so clearly pervades our society.
Enshrined in our governing documents and even our building are seven core values that we strive to live by every day: compassion, community, dignity, diversity, excellence, reliability and accountability. Every person must be granted the same compassion and dignity as they walk through life. Every person deserves excellence, reliability and accountability from those who serve them. Every person should feel welcomed by a community that actively champions diversity and inclusion, and has zero tolerance for racism.
Today, we talk about people living with HIV and AIDS, but when we began, that phrase was an oxymoron. While brave activists like Larry Kramer and so many others fought for the scientific advancements that made that possible, we did our part by bringing two things that were sorely needed: food and friends. We have an obligation to serve those whose lives—and deaths—are being ignored due to discrimination and hatred. That obligation is woven into the fabric of who we are and who we aspire to be, even when we fall short.
There are many glaring inequalities in our region. We try to confront them every day as we serve clients who might otherwise be left without the resources they need to lead healthy lives. The impact of the coronavirus has only shed more light on the significant health disparities in our community, as black residents make up nearly 80% of COVID-related deaths in D.C.
Our Minneapolis-based colleague Leah Hébert Welles of Open Arms of Minnesota said on Thursday, “It will take all of us to make substantive changes to create a just and equitable society that values all of humanity and takes care of those who are most vulnerable.”
This is our short- and long-term call to action. Many of us feel fear, anger and sadness right now, but we must also offer each other hope through persistent action. Thank you for standing with us and joining us on this path of deliberate change. We must do this together, as one community and one family.