With the financial effects of the pandemic still lingering, and inflation taking a toll in the lives and budgets of hundreds of thousands of families throughout Los Angeles County, more families are having to turn to food pantries in order to make ends meet. Whether there is one or there are multiple income households, everyday essentials at the grocery store are getting more expensive for families to pay for, and a hike in utility bills and rent doesn’t help their cause.
As of February 2023, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank works with roughly 600 partner agencies in order to provide families with food assistance, as well as provide diapers where needed, and feminine hygiene products to families in need. One of those agencies is St. Francis Center, located in the heart of Los Angeles, just south of the 10 freeway and half a block away from LA Trade Tech.
Since the start of the pandemic, St. Francis Center has doubled the number of food recipients they get at their distributions that are held four times a week. Due to its close location to Skid Row, one might think that the majority of these recipients are unhoused, however, they are now seeing more housed families than before the pandemic.
“The need in our community has tremendously increased because of things like housing insecurity, food insecurity, even utilities; not being able to pay your utility bill,” said Danielle Rayner, Development Manager at St. Francis Center.
After falling on hard times, Carrete didn’t know what to do in order to get food. She started volunteering at her local church and received some food, but then she was referred to St. Francis Center. Here, she continues to volunteer, and also receives food.
Without this food, Carrete wouldn’t know what to do.
“Everything is expensive; sometimes we can’t make it to the end of the week, or you don’t pay one thing in order to pay for another,” she said.
If there is anyone that understands the community that St. Francis Center serves, it’s the Center’s Executive Director Jasmine Bravo. Growing up in this community, Bravo’s family also struggled with food insecurity. Being able to give back to her own community and provide food to those in need is more than rewarding.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to help so many people, but I’m glad that we’re here to help the people that are in need,” Bravo said.
Supporting the Food Bank through financial donations also supports programs like the one available at St. Francis Center. If you are in a position to donate, please do so.