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Hunger Heroes: Serving Senior Veterans in Need

Hunger Heroes: Serving Senior Veterans in Need

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

Mike served in the Marines for four years during the Korean Conflict.
Mike served in the Marines for four years during the Korean Conflict.

Our largest CSFP site is located in Carson where we serve more than 800 qualifying seniors who struggle with hunger every month.

Not only is LA County home to the greatest number of veterans in the United States but half of all veterans in LA County are over the age of 65. This is well above the national average.

Romeo Bejo
Romeo Bejo

This is Romeo Bejo, one of our hunger heroes. He has been helping to facilitate the monthly CSFP distribution at the Carson Civic Center for six years. He is President of the Achiever’s Club as part of the Erasto R. Batongmalanque Foundation, an organization that supports senior citizens with special programs for senior veterans.  Romeo also teaches English and Spanish to new citizens.

His bright spirit of service mirrors the energy permeating the whole distribution site. To those who have never stood in line for food assistance, the scene here in Carson may come as a bit of a shock–but in the best of ways.

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First of all, the sheer volume of food and the number of staff and volunteers who turn out to help is truly something one has to see to comprehend. And then there are the clients.  Most of the seniors are smiling and energetic. They stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance together and sing God Bless America with a big, sincere sound. They are visibly grateful for assistance and they wear this gratitude on their faces and sometimes in giant hugs saying, “Thank You.”

Seniors in Carson stand to sing "God Bless America."
Seniors in Carson stand to sing “God Bless America.”

One doesn’t have to talk to Romeo for long to find out he is extremely patriotic and totally devoted to serving seniors. “It’s not only the government that has obligation to [seniors in need of assistance]. But also it’s our sworn duty to our country to serve,” he says. “ And we can serve our country in so many ways.”

At this particular site there are mostly Filipino faces waiting in line but the crowd as a whole is composed of diverse ethnicity. “The reason we are able to make this country great is from the conglomeration of many nationalities,” Romeo says. “ I always emphasize to them that although we have diverse ethnicity, we have one thing in common. We love our country, this country that helps us.”


Romeo says it is an honor to serve seniors.“The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. I try to remind them all that the benefactors today will need to be the beneficiaries tomorrow.”

There are many like Romeo, who serve people in need, often without recognition. But he doesn’t do this work for recognition. “We are supposed to be grateful. We are healthy, we live in the land of milk and honey, the land of the free and the home of the brave! What more are we expecting of our beloved country, the United States of America?”

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We honor Romeo and everyone else who gives back in order to support our seniors. To learn more about how to support our mission, click here.

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