Starting her days at 4:45 in the morning, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Programs Director Hilda Ayala spearheads a team of 21 employees plus up to 150-200 volunteers providing food for upwards of 7,600 families daily. Nineteen years with the Food Bank, Hilda has never seen the need for food assistance like what’s transpired with the pandemic. Since the crisis started in March, 23.7 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 19.7 million meals, has been distributed, including 356,750 emergency food boxes distributed to families and individuals, totaling 8.9 million pounds of food for 7.4 million meals.
In a typical month before the coronavirus pandemic, the Food Bank provided food to 300,000 adults, seniors and children through our partner agency network and Food Bank direct distribution programs. The number of people served has surged to an estimated 500,000 people served in a month. The growing need continues to expand as unemployment in the region isn’t likely to slow down – recent distributions to workers laid off or experiencing a decrease in work hours ranged from 1,000 to 7,650 families per distribution.
Distributions, including cleanup, usually end at around 3 PM, when Hilda returns home to her two children and her husband, also an essential worker, where she continues her work for the Food Bank.
“I feel like it’s a pull between my family and society,” Hilda says. “It’s hard not to be emotional. It’s hard not to let it impact me. But the thank-yous that we get keep us going. Keep me going. Keep me motivated. The thank-yous in the different languages, it’s very touching, and we all get very emotional.”
Hilda arrives on-site to the designated distribution location that day around 6 to begin briefing all of those on deck to help safely distribute food to more people than ever before in the history of the Food Bank. The health and safety of everyone who attends our volunteer events is our top priority. The Food Bank continues to monitor the novel coronavirus outbreak and taking necessary precautions.
On top of standard health and sanitation procedures, the Food Bank has committed to implementing social distancing measures, providing hand sanitizer pumps, the facility regularly sanitized by sanitation staff, providing gloves and masks for all volunteers. Best practices throughout the event and washing hands for at least twenty seconds and staying 6 feet apart are encouraged.
If you are interested and can volunteer, we encourage you to learn more about the requirements and how you can be part of the fight against hunger today. By volunteering your time, you’ll help us provide food for the 2 million people in Los Angeles County who regularly face food insecurity.
Our volunteers help us by boxing, sorting and gleaning food later distributed through our network of more than 600 agency partners to our neighbors in need. Together, #WeFeedLA
“I choose to stay on the front lines because I know that there are thousands and millions of people that need food. I will keep moving forward until this ends.”
If you are unable to volunteer but would still like to help, please consider providing a financial gift at LAFoodBank.org/donate.