It is 30 minutes before a morning food distribution begins and there is already excitement in front of Bread of Life Foursquare Gospel Church, spilling onto the sidewalks. Friendly faces, a production line of home-cooked meals and thoughtfully prepared drinks greet you. There are a handful of church staff and volunteers who roll up their sleeves to help God’s Food Pantry provide continuous support before, during and beyond the current pandemic as demand for food assistance in this Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles has markedly increased.
One of the volunteers who regularly shows up to help is Juan Pablo Garcia. Juan has been a member of the Bread of Life for the last 15 years. He first came to the church for help when he struggled with drugs, alcohol and mental health problems. The church and its community have been his saving grace and it is rewarding for Juan to be able to give back where he can. In addition to helping on Wednesdays, Juan is a translator on Sundays, translating from English to Spanish, or Spanish to English, as Bread of Life is a bilingual congregation.
“A lot of people stay too. I came here when I was in a really bad situation and I’ve stayed 15 years,” says Juan. “I wasn’t thinking of staying this long, but this is where I feel good. Other people when they come and try us, quickly get a sense of how solid the church is. I’ve seen miracles here.”
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank teams up with about 700 partner agencies to offer healthy food throughout Los Angeles County. The Partner Agency Network is essential in the fight against food insecurity here in our community, especially during the pandemic response. Partner Agencies are other nonprofits, spirit-based organizations, food pantries and other community organizations also committed to working toward ending hunger. By the end of 2020, the Food Bank and our partners provided food resources to 900,000 families, children, older adults and individuals each month with the help of our generous community. Thanks to our agency network, which has really stepped up during this unprecedented time, we can reach a profound number of people in need.
One of those partners is Bread of Life Foursquare Church, whose mission is “building holy and whole lives from the ground up by meeting the spiritual and physical needs of our community through the love of Jesus Christ.”
Located at 5179 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016, the Church hosts free food distributions every Wednesday morning from 11 AM – 12:30 PM. Anyone in the surrounding community in need of food assistance is encouraged to visit the Food Pantry, where families are greeted by a team of volunteers, organizers and staff.
Once the distribution gets underway, you will find an array of resources awaiting food recipients to enjoy a hot cooked meal and choose from different food products for their food pantries and families. Juan says there are “chicken, fish, steak, soups, pizzas and all kinds of vegetables and canned goods.”
Juan shares that the Food Pantry also offers spiritual, financial, housing, professional and religious support – a one-stop shop for its community members to succeed. In addition to the distribution at the church location, Bread of Life also distributes at the Avalon Gardens Housing Project and Pueblo Del Rio Housing Project.
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“I see a lot of need. We wish we can help everyone but we [still] help a lot of people. Please don’t stop helping or don’t doubt that we help people. We help families, kids, disabled people – if you can please donate, we need all the help so we can help all the people.”
Juan hopes to continue their tradition of preparing food and going to other parts of Los Angeles County to distribute it when the pandemic is over.
Being a nonprofit organization, the LA Regional Food Bank cannot carry out our work without volunteers like Juan nor without the continued support of our community. If you are able to help, please consider donating to help us fight hunger. Together, #WeFeedLA.