What started off as a way to help their community during the pandemic has now turned into a reliable food source for families in need.
When the pandemic first hit Los Angeles in March 2020, the East Side Riders Bike Club in South Los Angeles got to work by making pancakes in order to help families feed their children as they began distance learning. Shortly after, the organization’s co-founder/president John Jones III, and his team began looking for ways to continue helping their community.
They linked up with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and shortly after, they were hosting food distributions every Wednesday, welcoming hundreds of families in need.
One of those people seeking food assistance at the East Side Riders Bike Club was Maria Cortez. As a mother of three, her husband as the sole breadwinner, and without help from any other agency, Cortez had to find a way to help her husband make ends meet as prices on essential items continue to rise. With the rising prices of food, gas, and utilities, to name a few, their family is struggling.
Food distributions like the one available at East Side Riders Bike Club help families like the Cortez’s make ends meet in order to send their children to school fed and satisfied.
As many can recall, the pandemic took a toll in every aspect of our lives – physically, mentally and financially. Thousands of people lost their jobs, and many lost their loved ones.
While the unemployment rate in LA County has decreased since then, some families are struggling to get back on their feet. Those that lost their jobs in the start of the pandemic and are back to work are having to work more hours in order to payback their rent or loans. Many that contracted the virus may not be able to return or have lingering effects.
Although the pandemic seems to be subsiding in some communities, families like the Cortez’s are what inspire Jones and the East Side Riders Bike Club to continue hosting their weekly food distributions in the Watts community.
“This is already a low-income community, so the need is going to be greater, the need is going to be longer; the effects of the pandemic are going to last longer than any other community,” Jones said. “Inflation has risen the fact that people are having to come through and needing the essentials of milk, meat. We see that the line is growing, we see people are reeling.
“Trying to recover from a pandemic, now gas prices are high, food prices are high, this is a big blessing for the community,” he added.
If you are in a position to do so, please consider donating to the Food Bank and supporting programs and agencies like the East Side Riders Bike Club.