In 1983, through a network of churches in Washington D.C., The Salvation Army organized a mobile feeding canteen. The goal was to meet the basic needs of the growing street homeless population. Today, the Army continues to supply and maintain the vehicle. The program is operated by two drivers and with the help from volunteers from local churches and other organizations. Named after the heating gates where many homeless congregate, the Grate Patrol serves approximately 120-150 evening meals every night of the year. More than 2,000 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 supplies 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. They work very closely with members to determine basic needs, as well as establishing long-term goals to help break the cycle of homelessness. The case worker can help connect them with services such as housing, Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, medical care, and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services. In an instance the case worker cannot provide the services needed, they will be referred to other service providers.
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.