In 1983, in Washington, D.C., The Salvation Army through a network of churches organized a mobile feeding canteen to meet the basic needs of a growing street homeless population. Today, The Army continues to supply and maintain the vehicle, provides two drivers and with the help of volunteers from local churches and other organizations, the Grate Patrol (named for the heating grates where many homeless congregate) operates every night of the year and serves approximately 120-150 evening meals. More than 3,000 people (primarily homeless, single men) are served each month. Clients also receive material assistance such as blankets, hats, gloves, hygiene kits, work boots, coats, and other resources. The “Fresh Start” hygiene kit in which we supply basic needs such as body soap, washcloths, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, disposable razors, hand sanitizers or wipes and first aid items.
While dispensing meals provides a foundation of trust and respect, food alone does not begin to address the root problems and factors contributing to living on the streets. Currently, our outreach case worker maintains an active caseload of 10 to 15 clients and works very closely with the members of her caseload to determine basic needs as well as establishing long-term goals to help break the cycle of homelessness. Typically she manages requests for information on housing, Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, medical care, and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services. In instances where she cannot provide the services needed she refers clients to other service providers, often for substance abuse treatment, and permanent supportive housing placements.
Sign-up to volunteer for Grate Patrol or learn about other volunteer opportunities in the area!
Grate Patrol is volunteer supported by nearly two dozen local churches and organizations. Each helps by preparing and serving meals to individuals with no place to live or simply need help to make ends meet.