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How Foothill Unity Center is Helping People and Changing Lives

How Foothill Unity Center is Helping People and Changing Lives

Over 40 years ago, Foothill Unity Center was founded by Josephine Anderson in a borrowed church closet in Monrovia to provide food to a few food-insecure families. Currently, the organization provides support and services to the San Gabriel Valley Cities of Altadena, Arcadia, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bradbury, Duarte, Irwindale, Monrovia, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Temple City. Since its inception, the organization has become a vital source of food, health services and crisis assistance for thousands of low-income families.

The growing problem of food and nutrition insecurity has been impacting Los Angeles County for years. Furthermore, recent USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Public Exchange data reports that 37% of low-income individuals in LA County experienced food insecurity in 2022, 10 points higher than a pre-pandemic study in 2018.

Related: Is the Rate of Food Insecurity on the Rise?

 “The need has never gone back to the levels before the pandemic itself,” Foothill Unity Center Chief Executive Officer Tashera Taylor explains. 

“People are still going day-to-day without knowing where their next meal is coming from and we’re responding to that need by providing food resources here. We can access or receive those food resources from the LA Regional Food Bank to distribute them to our neighbors. With the elevated or inflated prices of groceries and gas, we know this is a support for the community of neighbors that we serve. We’re able to provide more by having this partnership with the LA Regional Food Bank.”

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

For Maria Velasco, food distributions at Foothill Unity Center are instrumental in nutrition access for her and her grandchildren that she provides for.

“This helps me a lot to help alleviate the huge crisis we’re going through,” says Velasco. “I have four grandkids and I get very little for them for food from CalFresh, so this is a big help for me.”

Taylor explains that CalFresh allotments provide families such as Velasco’s access to groceries through CalFresh benefits that they wouldn’t have to pull from their already-tight budgets. “With the CalFresh Emergency allotment sunsetting, we know that families will begin to resume accessing food pantries,” Taylor said.

Related: CalFresh Emergency Allotment Finished A Month Ago. What Does it Mean?

A misconception around food and nutrition insecurity is that someone has something that looks fancy and is not in need and somehow utilizes or abuses the system, shares Taylor.

“A person wouldn’t come and access food resources unless they needed to access food resources. If we didn’t have the safety net of food resources for families to access, then how many more people would be unhoused in the communities because they’re not able to make ends meet? It is vital resources and recent research says that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. These safety nets are helping people to stay alive. It’s a matter of life and death. We are in the business of helping people and changing lives and we want to continue doing that with the support of the community, with partnerships like with the LA Regional Food Bank, we can continue helping people and changing lives.”

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