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My Friends House – A Food Pantry for the Community

My Friends House – A Food Pantry for the Community

Whether it’s a family of one or a family of eight, My Friends House goes above and beyond to serve its community

With the economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic and the rising cost of everyday essentials, there are millions of individuals in Los Angeles County who are facing food insecurity.

My Friends House is one of more than 600 partner agencies with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank that are ready to serve its community. The organization counts with five different components including two cooking programs for youth and seniors, aid for young adults after leaving foster care, a garden, and their most known component, its food ministry. Whether it’s a family of one or families of eight, new and returning food recipients are welcomed with open arms and humility.

The Choice for a Healthy Meal

Every Wednesday, starting around 7 a.m., individuals in need of food assistance begin to show up at 3533 West 58th Place in Los Angeles. They are greeted by one of the dozen volunteers that make their way to My Friends House from all over Los Angeles County, and they are given a number, their place in line ahead of the 9 a.m. start of distribution.

Once the distribution begins, they aren’t given a box of goods, rather, they are given the opportunity to pick and choose what they’ll be taking home from a variety of departments including produce, beverages, meats, dairy, bakery, and non-edible products such as tissue paper, feminine hygiene products, and paper plates.

“We believe that client choice is good because that means clients are not taking food and wasting it,” said Judy Starr, Executive Director at My Friends House. “We want to know that the things that they take are useful to them; something that they weren’t able to find at the grocery store but now they’re able to find it.”

Unfortunately for residents of the neighborhood, and many recipients at My Friends House, there is only one grocery store to find fresh produce and nutritious food within a two-mile radius, leaving those who don’t have access to a car without access to healthy options.

Andre Jones is one of the weekly recipients at My Friends House. Despite being a local resident, Jones asks his mom for rides to My Friends House and the grocery store, when needed. However, he is happy that My Friends House offers him fresh produce and healthy options that may be inaccessible to his neighbors.

“You get to pick and choose the things you like, as opposed to them just giving you what you don’t like, like a box of canned goods, no, they have fresh produce here, some meat in a packet that costs $20,” Jones said. “When I’m down, I look at the next week as a fresh start just because they’re here.”

In the Community, for the Community

Without the help from volunteers, food banks would be unable to operate, including My Friends House. While church members are asked to volunteer from time to time, many of the volunteers that come from outside of the church tend to stick around after seeing the need firsthand and experiencing appreciation from the community.

“Our volunteer base is wide,” Starr said. “We have one lady coming from Glendale, one coming from West Hollywood, two coming from Carson, and others coming here and there. The important thing about this volunteer group is that you can’t get rid of them, they stay on and they like the work.”

Without volunteers, My Friend’s House would be unable to operate. And without donations, hundreds of community members would be left without food assistance in a time of need.

“Unfortunately, it really does boil down to cash donations,” said Starr. “Even though we receive a lot of our food from the Food Bank, and our Extra Helpings partners, there are a lot of times that we have to supplement. And we don’t have an income for that.

“Every $50 check that comes through is treated with care. I always acknowledge people who donate and let them know that we appreciate their donation,” she finalized.

If you are in a position to do so, please donate.

Join the fight against hunger!

It’s thanks to the generous support of the community that distributions like the one at My Friends House are made possible. If you’re in a position to do so, please support our programs by donating today.  Join us in the fight against hunger, whether it’s donating your time or financially supporting our mission.

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