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Meeting the Need – How This Food Pantry is Changing the Outlook for Families in Need

Meeting the Need – How This Food Pantry is Changing the Outlook for Families in Need

Newlife Community Church in Pomona holds a weekly food distribution that impacts hundreds of families each week

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, U.S Route 66 helped support the economies of the communities it passed as many migrated west to escape the Dust Bowl and seek opportunities. It was in this earlier era of great need that many traveled through this road seeking help to feed themselves or their families, with many establishing their lives in these communities and giving back when time permitted.

Ninety years later, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank partner agency Newlife Community Church sits along this road and continues the tradition of helping anyone who needs it, through food, and helping meet their emotional and spiritual needs.

Meeting the need

The pandemic brought millions of families and individuals different challenges, but the economic fallout caused by the pandemic continues to affect everyone. The rising prices of everyday goods, as well as housing, is as high as it’s been in the past 40 years. Families and individuals are having to revisit their budgets, and cut costs where they can in order to keep up.

Newlife Church Outreach Pastor Zamar Alkiezar saw the impact directly. Also serving as the Church’s Food Pantry Director, he and his group went from serving 800 families per week to 1,600 families per week.

“One of the things we work towards is blessing the community,” said Alkiezar.

There are several reasons why thousands go to Newlife Church on a weekly basis. Like many other individuals before the pandemic, Joed Torres found himself struggling and didn’t know where his next meal would come from. Accepting his reality of being food insecure, Torres sought help and he landed at Newlife Church.

There, he received food from the food pantry, and support from his peers. However, he didn’t want to just accept what was given to him and walk away, he wanted to give back to the church and its community by becoming a volunteer.

According to Alkiezar, volunteers are required to have certain criteria before they begin. Newlife Church expects volunteers to have the desire to give back to their community, and most importantly, build relationships by treating everyone with the love and respect they once received when they were in need.

Torres understands the stigma and the pride that prevents many people from asking for help, and he wants to change that any way he can, and help as many individuals as possible.

“When it comes to food, it doesn’t discriminate – everybody gets hungry,” Torres said. “I understand what it’s like to not want to come to a place asking for help, it’s difficult for a lot of people.

“There’s no reason for anybody to be hungry,” he added.


A source of help for multigenerational families

The recent inflation in everyday essentials has impacted millions of individuals in Los Angeles County, including seniors living on a fixed income. Sheila Johnson is just one of those individuals who seek food assistance weekly at Newlife Church in order to help make ends meet. Here, she receives the food that will help maximize her budget, and she’s able to pick up food for her grandkids whom she babysits from time to time.


“Produce, everything is very expensive,” Johnson said. “I’m on a limited income and that way I can afford to eat fresh vegetables.

“I like coming here because they have a variety of different stuff that you like, and I like it because you can choose it,” she added.

Just like Johnson, Annette Martin has turned to the Newlife Church food pantry for food assistance. While she and her husband are living on a fixed income, finances are tight. And even more so as they have custody of their teenage granddaughter. 

“It helps tremendously; we depend on it,” Martin said. “I come here every Friday because I get great things to eat; I get vegetables and everything I need.”


Food pantries like the one available at Newlife Community Church are made possible thanks to the generosity of the community. Without your help, thousands of families would go hungry. If you are in a position to do so, please donate to the Food Bank.

Join the fight against hunger!

It’s thanks to the generosity of our community that programs like the one offered at Newlife Community Church are made possible. Please consider donating to the Food Bank.

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