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Why I Created a Matching Campaign: Robbin Steif

Why I Created a Matching Campaign: Robbin Steif

A graph showing Summer P-EBT benefits decreased by almost 70% compared to last year. Sources: (a) California Department of Education, SY 2021–22 P-EBT and Summer P-EBT Announcement (b) California Department of Education, Summer 2023 P-EBT Announcement

When I was growing up, I loved summer break. I looked forward to spending time with my friends, going to the pool and playing board games on our screened-in porch. But for many children here in LA County, and even more so for their parents, summer is anything but carefree. As the school doors close, so do the vital sources of nutrition that so many children rely on during the academic year—school meals. This summer will be particularly challenging because food assistance programs are changing, resulting in fewer dollars to feed hungry kids.

In the summer of 2020, the Pandemic EBT was created to help feed children who rely on in-school meals over the summer. In the summer of 2022, families with children eligible for the program received up to $391 in benefits for the 3-month period kids weren’t in school. This summer, those benefits have been cut to $120 for the 3 months–that’s a 69% decrease. 

This hit to the household budget comes on the heels of a major cut to the CalFresh food assistance program in April, and food prices are still soaring compared to last year. 

Many, like Maria Velasco, are now left wondering: how will I feed my grandchildren? How will I feed myself and still pay rent? Maria is a grandmother of four, working part-time to help make ends meet. She visits the food pantry at Foothill Unity Center in Monrovia, one of the Food Bank’s more than 600 trusted partner agencies. At a recent distribution, she shared,

“I am here to pick up food because this helps to alleviate the crisis we’re going through. The benefits we get aren’t enough. I have four grandchildren, ages 10, 12, 14 and 15. Rent is ridiculous… the bills, gas, electricity, food, it’s too much. Everything is expensive at the store. It’s not just eggs but lettuce, lentils and beans. It’s been very drastic for those of us with lower incomes. The food we get here is a huge help. I want to thank you with all my heart for everything you do for us. You save a lot of people from going hungry, from going a whole day without eating anything. It’s not just me. There are thousands like me that need this help. Thank you for being so generous with us.” 

Maria Velasco, food recipient at Foothill Unity Center

The number of hungry families has increased dramatically across LA County over the past several months. I believe, and I hope you do too, that we have a responsibility to keep all our children well-nourished, to help families who are struggling to put food on the table, especially in the summer months when school-based meals end. Making sure that children have a healthy, abundant and balanced diet is especially important during these formative years, where bodies and minds are developing, growing and learning.

As a proud supporter of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, I am grateful that hungry families have ready access to nourishing food because of the Food Bank and its partners. I consider myself extremely fortunate. As a former CEO and entrepreneur, I now devote my time to the philanthropic work I believe is important to our community. I want to do something special for the children and families in LA County facing food insecurity this summer. This is my commitment to you: make a donation to the Food Bank this summer, and I will MATCH it, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. Your gift will provide twice as many meals to every family seeking food assistance this summer. 

I firmly believe that making a tax-deductible gift to the Food Bank is an investment in our future. Your generosity will mean that parents will go to bed knowing their children will eat tomorrow and the next day and the week after that. Your gift will allow our children to play and thrive during their summer break. That’s what every child deserves.

Please take this opportunity now and give me the honor of DOUBLING your generous summer gift. Together, #WeFeedLA.

Guest blogger: Robbin Steif
Proud LA Regional Food Bank Donor

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