By Bria Overs
MAKING A DIFFERENCE:
Los Angeles’ homelessness epidemic isn’t the only issue plaguing several low-income communities.
The county is full of “food deserts” leaving many residents — children, adults and seniors alike — to face the realities of hunger.
Helping fight the issue is local nonprofit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which has worked to alleviate hunger in the region since 1973 with more than 1 billion meals distributed. And, with the help of a $100,000 donation from Starbucks, the food bank can do even more with its mobile food pantry.
“We are proud to partner with Starbucks and Feeding America to ensure that people who struggle with hunger have access to wholesome meals,” said Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “This grant exemplifies what we can accomplish when we work together.”
According to the California Food Policy Advocates, 1.4 million adults and 573,000 million children who live in low-income households in Los Angeles are affected by “food insecurity,” living with limited or inconsistent access to quality food.
The Food Bank’s mobile food pantry works with the 2 million people affected in the county and allows them to get the food they otherwise would not have access to. The truck visits12 different locations that do not have a food bank or pantry and distribute fresh produce, bread, grains, dairy and more.
A dollar can contribute four meals to someone in need, according to the Food Bank. The organization uses the help of donors, volunteers and advocates to make their vision of “no one going hungry in Los Angeles County” come true.
In 2018, the Mobile Food Pantry distributed more than 1.4 million pounds of food, including more than 450,000 pounds of fresh produce.
Starbucks’ donation will provide about 400,000 meals to those utilizing the Mobile Food Pantry. In the time the Food Bank has worked with Starbucks through the Starbucks Foodshare Program, more than 600,000 meals have been given to those in need and is estimated to provide 5,894,775 million pounds of food.
This summer, the coffee franchise has donated about $1.5 million to 17 food banks across the country to support mobile food pantry programs.
“Starbucks is committed to doing our part to alleviate hunger in the U.S.,” Jane Maly, Starbucks’ social impact manager, said. “Our grant to the L.A. Regional Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry Program is an expansion on our existing partnership to donate our surplus food, helping them to provide access to give kids the nourishment they need to learn and succeed.”
“We are grateful for Starbucks, one of our strong supporters in the fight against hunger,” Roger Castle, L.A. Food Bank’s chief development officer, said. “The funds provided for the Mobile Food Pantry will make a significant difference in the lives of those who need it most.”
As with most nonprofits, volunteers are an important part of the equation.
Volunteers help by boxing, sorting and gleaning food that is later distributed through the bank’s network of more than 600 agency partners.
All volunteers are asked to register online, where they are asked to fill out a liability release. Volunteers must be at least 14 and those between 14 and 18 must have the liability release signed by a parent or legal guardian.
“Volunteering at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is one of the best volunteer opportunities in L.A., the agency’s website says. “By donating a few hours of your time, you’ll help us provide food for the 2 million people in Los Angeles County who face food insecurity.”
For more information on volunteering, contact Ana Martinez at (323) 234-3030, ext. 144
Organization: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
Leader: Michael Flood, President and CEO
Social Media: @lafoodbank
This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.