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How a Market-Style Pantry Benefits a Community and the Environment

How a Market-Style Pantry Benefits a Community and the Environment

My Friends House in South Los Angeles hosts weekly food distributions benefitting hundreds of families

If anyone were to drive down West 58th Place between Crenshaw Boulevard and West Avenue in South Los Angeles, they may mistake My Friends House for just another house on the block. However, if anyone were to drive down the street on Wednesday mornings, they would find themselves with a market-style food pantry serving hundreds of individuals in need.

My Friends House is one of the nearly 700 partner agencies that receive food and products from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. In a recent interview, My Friends House Executive Director Judy Starr shared that about 75% of their inventory comes from the Food Bank. The following individuals are the beneficiaries of the generous support from the community.

A Food Waste-Conscious Pantry Experience

According to the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, 4,000 tons of food waste are generated every day in our County. With this in mind, distributions at My Friends House are held outdoors, socially distanced, and market-style, meaning individuals go through the five different areas and have the opportunity to pick and choose the items they need, leaving behind items they don’t need and are likely to throw away in the near future.

Andre Jones is one of the many clients at My Friends House that appreciate this type of distribution. A weekly beneficiary, Jones not only enjoys having the opportunity to pick and choose from the items available but also appreciates the health-conscious choices in stock.

“When I’m low and can’t afford food, they always have essential food and not just some slop that you warm-up; they actually have these necessities that we lack,” he said. “You get to pick and choose the things you like, opposed to giving you the things you don’t like.”

“Inflation has affected us all.”

It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s the grocery store or the gas station, prices are soaring. At-home meals are currently at a 7.5% rise in LA County, as of January 2022, with continued increases on the horizon. While some may be able to afford the rise in costs of everyday necessities, there are millions of individuals in our County who were already struggling even before inflation.

Amy Browne is a senior living on a fixed income in South Los Angeles. Every now and then, Browne would attend the food distributions at My Friends House. But ever since she’s seen the rise of food at the grocery store, Browne has become a frequent visitor.

“I used to come here before [inflation], but now, I come more often,” Browne said.

Browne is not the only one being affected by inflation.

Martha Freyermuth and her family have been fortunate to maintain their employment throughout the pandemic. Even with multiple incomes, Freyermuth visits My Friends House to seek the food that she can’t afford at the grocery store.

“Inflation has affected us all,” Freyermuth said. “Almost everything that I need, I can get it here.”

A Healthy Advantage

While food prices are on the rise, limiting millions of individuals’ budgets, having access to nutritious food has become a luxury. Hundreds of families are now having to choose between providing a healthy and filling meal or purchasing unhealthy food at a lower cost.

For former healthcare worker Kari Armstrong, the importance of having a healthy meal is always on her mind at the grocery store and when she attends the food distributions at My Friends House. While she can’t afford some of the healthier options at the grocery store, she is able to find them at the food pantry, take them home and cook up a nice meal for her and her family.

“We get a lot of nutritious vegetables and salads, so that really helps out a lot, especially on our budget when it’s so tight right now,” Armstrong said.

“If you can’t afford to eat salads and more nutritious-type foods, then you fall back on the processed-type of foods that are unhealthy,” she added.

The engagement and participation from our community allow the Food Bank and our partner agencies to continue our pandemic relief efforts as many families in our community continue to recover from the pandemic and its related economic hardships. Together, #WeFeedLA.

Join the fight against hunger!

It’s thanks to the generous support of the community that distributions like the one at My Friends House are made possible. If you’re in a position to do so, please support our programs by donating today.  Join us in the fight against hunger, whether it’s donating your time or financially supporting our mission.

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