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Photo by Michelle A. Dowell-Vest

Local hip-hop artists take feeding the homeless into their own hands

On a perfect spring morning, while much of Washington, D.C. was enjoying brunch and their fair share of bottomless mimosas, a group of DJs, hip-hop artists and volunteers gathered at Touchès Supper Club on H Street for an event called Breaking Bread. Breaking Bread is a quarterly event where volunteers pack as many boxed lunches as they can to help feed the homeless of both D.C. and Atlanta, GA. It is a conglomerate of two organizations: Will Rap 4 Food and Blue Royalty.

Will Rap 4 Food is a non-profit organization that envisions the hip-hop community as the most influential agents of change in the fight against hunger. The mission is to educate, empower and mobilize the hip-hop community to be agents of change in the global eradication of hunger through awareness, unity, and the powerful influence of art. Blue Royalty works to bridge generational, relational and spiritual gaps via stageplays, mainstream media  and community service.

We spoke to Calvin Roberson, Chief Advocacy Officer for Will Rap 4 Food about Breaking Bread and the homeless community.

calvin-will-rap-4-food

Calvin Roberson, Chief Advocacy Officer (Photo by Michelle A. Dowell-Vest)

 

Tell us about your organization.

Will Rap 4 Food started in 2013 to unite artists in the fight against hunger in our city. We wanted to give back before it was convenient. We started small by sponsoring families at the holidays, concert fundraisers and supporting food banks. Now, Breaking Bread is a quarterly event  to crank up the assembly line and make sandwiches for the homeless and distribute them to various organizations. We also have an event in Atlanta today with our partners Blue Royalty doing the same thing. It’s a friendly competition for a great cause.

 

What is your reason for the event today?

Because as human beings, it’s just the right thing to do. At the end of the day, we are not going to wait for the next leader, the government, or anyone else to come and change this issue. We are going to change our community ourselves. Homeless people feel like they are not people or that they even exist. The reality is that many of us are just one paycheck away from being in that person’s shoes. We are a love driven organization and we are spreading love in every way we can.

 

Why was it important for you to partner with Touchès Supper Club?

We are shooting a documentary about eradicating hunger in Wards 7 and 8 and  Touchès allowed us to shoot here and use their rooftop to plant a community garden. They are our partners.

 

How does this event, partnered with this venue honor the culture and vibe of H Street?

There are a lot of dope events that happen here onl H Street because it really is a community. The energy here complements this event. People are used to being involved in this neighborhood. So this event here on H Street, in this venue, well, it just fits.

 

What is your organization’s relationship with the LGBTQ community?

As you can see, we are all inclusive. DJ Mim is a long-time supporter and volunteer.  At our core, this is a humanitarian movement. If the LGBTQ community wants to come help, we would love that.

 

What can we expect from WR4F in the future?

There are negative stereotypes about the hip-hop community. This is a platform to let people know that we are hip-hop culture and we are taking control of the issues in our communities. There will be more Breaking Bread events. We are planning to break the Guinness record for making sandwiches. We are working on a mixtape and finishing a documentary addressing food deserts in Wards 7 and 8. We are exploring how we can resolve that issue. We are not an organization that waits on anyone, if we see a problem, we are going fix it.

 

How is this personal for you?

A lot of people don’t know this, but I was homeless when I started this organization. I just didn’t look the part. The only difference between myself and many of the people we feed is that I hadn’t ran out of friends and couches to crash on. I could be homeless again and I would want someone to show me love. Homeless people want to be treated like people. Homelessness branches way beyond just hunger. When you are homeless you are hungry mentally, spiritually, and physically. We are working to impact all of those deficiencies.  If you encounter a homeless person and don’t have food or money to give, perhaps just sharing a word, a smile or a conversation can make someone’s day. It’s deeper than sandwiches, it’s about impacting lives. There are a lot a people here who are connected to the cause personally, and that is the sole reason they are here. For the people who connect to the cause, its easy to give.

 

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