Hunger has many faces. Even before the pandemic, the Food Bank provided food to communities all over Los Angeles County and reached 300,000 people each month. Some people believe that Food Banks primarily provide food for those experiencing homelessness. While food banks do help this population, it only makes up about 10% of our distributed food.
The majority of food goes to lower-income individuals – often the “working poor” – who do have a home. These families and individuals are fighting hard to keep their bills paid and a roof over their heads. They might be a senior citizen who is struggling to pay for rent, bills and medication. It might be a family where both parents worked multiple jobs, but one or more of the jobs have ended. It could be a lower-income family who only needs help for a short while as they pay for unexpected expenses like car repairs.
COVID-19 has created a tremendous need in even more communities throughout Los Angeles County. Many individuals are experiencing food insecurity for the very first time. Various income levels are being impacted. Some workers who have had good-paying jobs for the entire lives have now lived with reduced or no pay for many months.
Amid the Coronavirus, the number of people reached by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has increased from 300,000 per month to 900,000 per month. People from all corners of LA County, people from a variety of income brackets, people with all kinds of histories and stories – so many people in our community need help during this unprecedented time.
Here are just a few people who, thanks to the generosity of our donors, volunteers and supporters, have the nutritious food they need.
This food assistance recipient is a caregiver for a client who needs support during these difficult times. The caregiver acknowledges how the pandemic has affected billions across the globe and is very grateful that good samaritans are willing to risk their health to help others. As an essential worker, she knows what it is like to have others relying on you to be there when they need it.
This food recipient is named Lovely Lola, and she is a singer, songwriter, musician and live event host. The entertainment industry has a significant presence in the county, and when it shut down, many were left jobless overnight. Lola explained that “everything has been canceled for me when it comes to working,” but distribution events like the one she attended have helped her keep her on her feet. She remarked that before the pandemic, she was lucky enough to donate and volunteer for the Food Bank. Like millions across the country, this is her first time facing food insecurity. She said, “it’s incredibly humbling, and I’m grateful, My whole family, we’re very grateful.” Lola went on to discuss the uncertainty of the music industry, and what it’s like not knowing when you will next find a gig. She believed life would never go back to being the same as before, so she does have some fear, but as a creative, she is confident in her ability to find a way to make it through.
This interview is another prime example of the kind souls that exist in our community who are ready to assist in any way they can. LA Regional Food Bank aids those of all different backgrounds and circumstances. This food recipient has come for herself in the past, but because of the current global situation, she is picking up meals for her 83-year-old neighbor named Ms. Johnson, and another woman named Tanya. Her two neighbors are currently unable to leave their houses because of pre-existing health issues, so she decided to become the designated pick up person. The recipient says she was willing to go out of her way because “they are my neighbors, and I love them, and I don’t want to see them get ill from this virus.”
This first-time food recipient is grateful to the Food Bank for providing food for his family, including his two daughters. As a dual-income family, had not needed food assistance before, but because of the Coronavirus pandemic, his wife has not been able to work for four months, causing extra strain on the family’s finances.
When the entertainment industry shut down, essentially overnight, many workers were left without pay. Individuals in the film industry work from job to job, and don’t necessarily belong to a company, so when a job is canceled, and when no other jobs are coming down the pike, things can get very rough very quickly. The recipients in this vehicle attended a distribution organized by the Food Bank, the LA Federation of Labor, and IATSE – a labor union representing the technicians, artisans and other members of the entertainment industry.
These two recipients were physically disabled and were incredibly grateful for the seamless execution of the distribution by the Food Bank. The wife is currently going through cancer treatment, so there is an evident strain on the family, not to mention immunodeficiency from these treatments, which can increase the risk of extreme COVID-19 symptoms. Her husband remarked on how complicated the past few months have been, but how he was also pleasantly surprised at how well the Food Bank ran the event. He said it was “extremely safe” and “well organized.” He finished by again expressing his gratitude and explaining how much he and his wife needed the assistance.
These are just a few stories from more than a million people that have been helped since the beginning of the outbreak. The Food Bank relies on the generosity of the community, so if you are in a position to donate, please do! The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a highly efficient charity, and just $25 provides the equivalent of 100 meals.