A place known for its vibrance from many facets of life, from fashion and culinary arts to sports and world-renowned art, to name a few, Los Angeles County is boundless with opportunities and possibilities. What makes it truly lively are the people that call it home. Home to about 10 million people, there are 2 million that experience food insecurity due to the high costs of living in such an exuberant place like Los Angeles County. When the pandemic gripped our lives, it made it that much harder for those who struggled to keep healthy food within reach for themselves and their families.
One family, in particular, was Veronica Gutierrez and her five children. A mother to three adults who are on their own while two are still under her care, including 17-year-old Marissa and 16-year-old Frankie, who is autistic. Veronica is a food recipient, member and volunteer of Bread of Life Foursquare Gospel Church of West Los Angeles, an Agency Partner of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
Veronica has been a member of the church for about a decade and volunteers as much as possible.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were overwhelmed with the need, but we all came together as a team,” she says. “We got it done and after that, it was constantly triple, quadruple the number of people that would come to seek food assistance.”
The church has been a source of support for her and her family in multiple ways. “My husband was an alcoholic and by coming here, he was able to get help and recover from alcoholism. He is now alcohol-free for five years with steady work. I am not working as I am taking care of my autistic son and coming here weekly for church and food services really help our family. Being in a positive area with the people here makes our family stronger because we learn so much here with so many positive people.”
Without this food, Veronica says she and her family would be struggling with rent because it is really high, and the food they receive allows them to save the money needed to purchase food.
“This place has been a blessing in so many and helped our family in so many ways.”
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Veronica’s 17-year-old daughter Marissa also volunteers at the church with her.
“When I see they have a smile on their face, that brings joy to my heart and it makes me happy that I’m serving others and the church, and that I’m out here doing the work that needs to be done,” she says while volunteering with her mom at a recent Wednesday morning food distribution.
She helps serve those seeking food assistance at the food pantry with hot meals and grocery items ranging from bread and eggs to butter and other staple food pantry items.
She says that those who are seeking help here “need the food to eat and to survive and we’re giving out that food so they can have it so they can survive, feed it to their children or give it to their neighbors. I think that we’re helping those people in need, especially during this time of need in the pandemic.”
“A lot of people that come, we try to lift them up and try to make their life positive,” says Marissa’s mother, Veronica.
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The Food Bank cannot carry out our work that is that much more essential during this pandemic without partners like Bread of Life Foursquare Church, compassionate community members such as Veronica and her daughter Marissa nor without the continued support of our donors. We are thankful for all those who help make our work possible and ask our supporters to continue helping us fight hunger. Together, #WeFeedLA.