No one person or organization can take on hunger alone. One of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s partner agencies, The Los Angeles Mission, supplements clients’ dietary needs while they get back on their feet. This is possible because of the generosity of the community and the support of the Food Bank.
While the vast majority of clients served by the Food Bank’s Partner Agency Network are not homeless, there are a growing number of people finding themselves in this situation throughout the county, especially in downtown Los Angeles where the LA Mission does its work. With food provided by the Food Bank, the LA Mission provides three meals daily for people who would likely go hungry without them.
Many of those served by the LA Mission are working to reenter society after incarceration, rehab or other challenges and live near the mission in subsidized housing. The Food Box Outreach Program is designed to fill the meal gap for these individuals so they do not have to use their entire budget on food or sacrifice nutrition.
Ralph Sutton, the LA Mission’s Food Box Outreach Coordinator, oversees the assembling food boxes for distribution. “We typically try to include eight to ten meals in each box,” he says. The contents vary, but each box contains fresh produce, multiple servings of meat, grains and canned goods.
“We design this program so that when the people we serve receive their general relief check, they don’t have to use that whole amount on food,” says Sutton. “They can use it to pay other living expenses.”
Proper nutrition is crucial in healing and recovery. People who have struggled with addiction have likely gone long periods without proper nutrients while straining their system with addictive behavior. By helping those who are committed to making a fresh start to eat well, generous donors are providing hope for a better future and a stronger community.
“I like doing what I do because it gives me the opportunity to help those who need help helping themselves,” Sutton says. “If I can inspire someone to take positive action to move forward and to learn about themselves and how to get back into society, that brings me fulfillment and the food helps.”
“The food that we get from the Food Bank makes up a great deal of what we give away each month in our food boxes,” Sutton says. “The Food Bank is an integral part of what we do here.” Without the Food Bank, the mission would have to rely more on food drives, according to Sutton. This would mean they would receive more canned items high in sodium and low in nutrients instead of fresh meat and produce that is provided by the Food Bank.
We know that hunger exists where homelessness exists and that homelessness is a growing problem in our community. But what we all need to remember is that hunger also exists where you’d least expect. In LA County alone, 2 million people – more than 25 percent of whom are children – face food insecurity. That means that they do not have reliable access to the nutritious food they need to be healthy and productive.
As we work to help those who are experiencing homelessness, it is equally important to remember that access the Food Bank’s network of food pantries and other agencies throughout the county make it possible for thousands of families to save money, which helps them pay other important bills, including rent.
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