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Hunger Heroes: Francisco

Hunger Heroes: Francisco

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

We are only able to pursue our vision of ending hunger in Los Angeles with the help of our volunteers.  We call them Hunger Heroes.  The same is true for our network of over 600 partner agencies, who help get the food to our clients.  Many of these agencies are entirely volunteer driven.

Francisco Terrero, 72, has been volunteering at St. Athanasius in Echo Park for 25 years. When he first got involved in his church’s food ministry program-started by then-Priest (now Bishop) Jon Bruno, the food distributions were much smaller than they are today. There were only a handful of volunteers and most of the food donations came directly from parishioners.


“We used to accept all donations from Parishioners,” Francisco explains. “But now that we are working with the Food Bank, if someone wants to donate we just refer them over there [to the Food Bank] because they distribute the food where it needs to go.”


After the financial collapse, the need for food assistance grew tremendously. Under Francisco’s leadership, the food ministry program grew to meet that need. Now, Francisco has a team of 30 committed volunteers who feed more than 300 people every single week. They have food distributions every Friday and provide assistance to aging adults through our CSFP program as well.

Francisco will sometime bring candy for the children who are waiting in line with heir parents. “When the kids laugh it makes my day, “ he says. He does a lot more than coordinate. What you won’t see on the surface are all the hours and love that go into this important mission to fight hunger. Francisco bought a forklift for food pickup so his volunteers wouldn’t have to do dangerous lifting. He even drives the truck to pick up orders from the Food Bank every Thursday.


Francisco is a retired attorney. “There are no similarities between what I was doing as an attorney and what I am doing now,” he says.  “In a certain sense, I was trying to help people before. But this is a lot different. This is a real need in our community and I get satisfaction and joy from helping people that I didn’t know how to help before.”


Francisco knows every volunteer and notices if they don’t show up. He encourages them to share ideas and input. He makes sure that volunteers who need food assistance are taken care of. He tries to draw people out and bring them together. “I can wash my hands of this,” he says, smiling, as he points to the line of people being served. “Look, I am here. But even if I stand off to the side you can see the work keeps flowing. These volunteers know what they are doing. Some of them have been here even longer than I have.”


The St. Athanasius food ministry program also helps clients with nutrition. They provide cooking classes and even screen clients for health issues so they can help them get the right kind of foods. “Some people are struggling with obesity or need to watch their sugar and salt intake,” he says. “We don’t just want to provide food. We want to provide the healthiest food possible.”


“When I go to sleep every night, it feels good to know I helped someone have a good dinner,” he says. He looks on with an expression of pride mixed with gratitude. “I can’t stop feeling the joy when I see mothers with babies on their back and in carts and everyone with a smile.”


“This is not my project. This is not the Bishop’s project,” he says. “This is all of ours. This is our community.”

Thank you, Francisco, for passionately carrying out our shared mission.


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Alma’s Journey: From Recipient to Volunteer

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College Corps Fellows Help the LA Regional Food Bank Fight Hunger

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