The Food Bank has been collaborating with the Congregational Church of Chatsworth to help feed more neighbors in need. Since March, the Church has seen a 400% spike in demand for food assistance. Everyone faces different challenges during this unprecedented time, but food insecurity should not be one of them.
The Congregational Church of Chatsworth first established the FISH of West Valley Food Pantry in 1971. Based in the Church’s kitchen, the pantry was founded by Louise Curinga and continues to run under the leadership of program coordinator Ana Cardenas. FISH has been fighting hunger in West Valley for almost fifty years, distributing Food Bank boxes of nutritious meals, and goods donated by local vendors like Ralphs and Vons.
The Church has increased distribution hours to accommodate inflated demand caused by the coronavirus crisis. Before March, 1 in 5 Los Angeles residents faced food insecurity. Now, millions more are struggling to feed their families. Overall, distribution at the Food Bank is up 80% from mid-March to the end of July compared to January and February of 2020. Through working with dedicated partners like FISH, the Food Bank helps 900,000 neighbors monthly as of early August . FISH itself has been serving four times its typical client base. While distributions used to occur weekly, FISH now provides nutritious meals from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. all weeklong including Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with Sundays reserved for direct homeless outreach to the different encampments in the community.
With the unemployment rate at roughly 20% in LA County, many of our neighbors are suddenly in need of food assistance. The Food Bank is proud to work with the Congregational Church of Chatsworth to support clients as they look after themselves, their family, and their friends. One recent client came to FISH for assistance in feeding five generations, including young children. She also picked up groceries for a neighbor recovering from two hip surgeries. We love to help our clients help others, and we’re grateful to be a part of such a giving community.
The upcoming school year presents even more challenges for many families since Los Angeles County Schools are conducting remote learning this fall. Before the pandemic, 1 in 4 children relied on school for meals. The economic downturn has only exasperated this figure. More parents are turning to FISH for the first time as they face unexpected furloughs, layoffs, and reduced working hours. The Food Bank is honored to collaborate with FISH to support these families and help clients care for their loved ones.
As clients arrive, volunteers at FISH arrange bags of groceries based on the size of each family. Food donations are separated by perishability and organized for easy distribution. Kits are assembled to provide about a week of meals for each client — they include Food Bank boxes, dry goods, produce, dairy, meat, and even desserts. Older members of the community can have boxes delivered right to their doorstep. FISH volunteers often pack boxes of food and drive them to seniors, allowing higher-risk neighbors to stay safer at home.
Partner agencies like FISH, as well as the continued support of our generous sponsors, donors and volunteers, are the backbone of our fight against hunger. It’s critical to come together as a community and lend a helping hand to our neighbors. With just $25, we can provide up to 100 nutritious meals to those in need. Let’s make our dream of ending hunger a reality.