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Faces of Hunger in LA County

Faces of Hunger in LA County

Food insecurity is indiscriminate, affecting individuals of different ages, ethnicities and communities across all education and employment levels.

Encompassing 88 cities and 100 communities, LA County includes an estimated 2 million food-insecure people, all with unique backgrounds and experiences. Through the support of 600 Partner Agencies, the LA Food Bank serves roughly 800,000 people each month at 900 different locations.

The LA Regional Food Bank Helps People from Lancaster to Long Beach, and Everywhere In Between

Approximately 4,753 square miles, LA County ranks as the most populous county in the nation. The Food Bank holds distributions and collaborates with partner agencies to support families living throughout our community.

One such partner is The Long Beach Rescue Mission, which distributes donations from the Food Bank to serve residents of southern LA County. The Mission also provides other social services, such as a New Life Program that includes year-long residential support for people recovering from addiction. One food recipient and graduate of the program, Eric, now works in the Mission’s kitchen. With help from his crew, Eric cooks daily meals for thousands in need. Read more about Eric and the Mission.

The Food Bank also organizes food distributions further north, including one in Lancaster. Over the summer, cars began arriving at the Pioneer Event Center more than an hour before the distribution’s scheduled start. The line continued beyond our noon end time, as staff worked to ensure all waiting cars received groceries. Read more about a food distribution at the Pioneer Event Center.

Food Insecurity Hits Various Income Brackets

Research conducted by USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange in 2020 revealed that food insecurity extends beyond low-income families. Particularly since the pandemic, food insecurity has become far more pervasive, affecting residents of different income levels.

USC’s survey reported that about 20% of households facing food insecurity are not low-income, earning $60,000 per year or more. Lead researcher Kayla de la Haye explained that the pandemic has “impacted demographic groups that are historically less likely to ever experience it.” Learn more about USC’s research into LA County food insecurity.

The Food Bank helps everyone on the income spectrum, from people who are recovering from homelessness to people who worked every day of their lives before an unexpected emergency (like COVID-19).

Without shelter and stable employment, Tania Cole once received support from the Ephesus Church, where she now works to give back to her community:

Like many LA residents with careers in entertainment, one family faced food insecurity for the first time last year after receiving less work in the music industry. They donated handmade masks to show their gratitude and help our community stay safe:

Food Assistance Allows Some la Residents to Afford Other Necessities

For some families, receiving food assistance frees up funds for necessities like rent or utilities.

Stella Aquino Reys visited the Interfaith Food Center (IFC) in Santa Fe for the first time at the beginning of the pandemic. Living with her husband on a fixed income, Reys struggled to afford groceries as the cost of food increased. Medical bills and copayments also arose after she and her husband fell ill. With access to healthy groceries, Reys can focus on paying utilities and other bills, knowing she and her husband have nutritious meals to eat.

In East Los Angeles, single-mother Jaqueline Reyes relies on the Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Center (WDACS) for help with groceries and diapers for her eleven-month-old daughter. Unemployed at the beginning of the pandemic, Reyes is slowly regaining working hours as her business reopens. As she pays rent and other expenses on her own, support from WDACS helps Ramos reduce costs and provide for her child.


Nutritious Groceries Help Individuals Stay Healthy

As the price of groceries continues to rise, the Food Bank and partner agencies distribute nutritious food to those in need.

A healthcare worker and mother, Kari Armstrong visits My Friends House once a week for fresh produce and unprocessed goods. Currently out of work, she is grateful for access to wholesome groceries that nourish herself and her family.

Amy Browne, a senior living in South Los Angeles, also attends distributions at My Friends House for groceries such as meat and vegetables. Inflation would otherwise prevent Browne from enjoying balanced meals like chicken or salad.

Partner Agencies and Distributions Help Families Face Unexpected Food Insecurity

Accidents, illnesses and other tragedies can leave previously-employed individuals and caregivers out of work. Alondra Flores, a mother with a family of six, and Alejandro Ortiz, a father to four girls, both experienced unemployment due to health issues during the pandemic.

After her accident, Flores faced back surgery and six months of bedridden recovery. Suddenly out of work, she and her family struggled to afford food. The Central City Neighborhood Partners (CCNP) provided nutritious meals and groceries to support Flores and her children.

Similarly, in southeastern Los Angeles, Ortiz found himself unable to work after contracting COVID-19. Treated in the hospital for over a month, his wife and daughters turned to food distributions in Cudahy for help with groceries. Now, recovered and looking for steady employment, Ortiz and his family appreciate the support they’ve received during a hard time.

Food insecurity can affect anyone, whether due to an unexpected accident, recent layoff or other financial burden. Individuals across all parts of LA County, with different families, experiences and backgrounds, need our support. Through providing food assistance, we allow LA residents to access nutritious meals and focus on necessities like healthcare and rent. If you’re able, please consider joining the fight against hunger today.

More Stories from the LA Regional Food Bank

Los Angeles Business Journal Honors FedEx and Jim Yukevich at 2024 Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards

At the 2024 Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards hosted by the Los Angeles Business Journal, Jim Yukevich and FedEx were celebrated .

Joining the Feeding LA Tomorrow Legacy Society: Tami

Feeding LA Tomorrow Legacy Society member Tami shares her story of how she plans to support generations to come with a lasting gift

Cutting the Ribbon at The Donald Goodman Family Foundation Volunteer Center

The LA Regional Food Bank commemorated the ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Donald Goodman Family Foundation Volunteer Center.

Helping Hands – The PazNaz Food Pantry Makes a Difference in the Community

With roots in the Pasadena area, the First Church of the Nazarene’s food pantry goes above and beyond for its neighbors. Learn more.

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