The LA Marathon is one of the most popular races in the country, drawing runners from around the world to challenge themselves on the streets of Los Angeles. But for some participants, the race is about more than just personal achievement – it’s an opportunity to give back to the community through charitable fundraising.
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The LA Regional Food Bank is proud to be a charity partner of the marathon. By supporting the Food Bank, runners are able to raise awareness and funds for an important cause – fighting hunger in the local community, which is especially important as there are an estimated two million food-insecure children, older adults, families and individuals in LA County.
Through their efforts, they are making a tangible difference in the lives of those who struggle with food insecurity. The LA Marathon and the LA Regional Food Bank partnership is a shining example of how the community can come together to positively impact those who need it most.
The Food Bank had the invaluable opportunity to speak with two of the 15 Team #WeFeedLA runners about their experience and what motivated them to get involved in this year’s marathon.
Malik has run marathons before; however, this most recent one was different in many ways, including representing the LA Regional Food Bank.
“I believe that everyone should have access to basic, vital human needs — shelter, a safe home environment, food, and clean water,” said Malik in a recent interview. “We live in a world where there is absolutely enough to go around, and we need to use every possible channel to make sure our most vulnerable are properly cared for. The Food Bank is one of those channels committed to eradicating hunger in LA, and serves a huge population in a well-organized, consistent, reliable way.”
Malik shares that she was already familiar with the work of the Food Bank, including already being on a mailing list. When she got the email about the opportunity to join Team #WeFeedLA at the LA Marathon, she felt it was an excellent way to step up her fundraising efforts while challenging herself to run again.
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“We live in such abundance, and yet people still go hungry,” says Malik. “I hate the thought of any person, especially any child, trying to get through their days without enough food. To fundraise, I sent personal emails to my friends and family, telling them about the vital service that the Food Bank provides and why the cause is important to me.”
“It felt wonderful,” Malik answered on how it felt to run on behalf of the Food Bank and our mission. “It made me feel like all the early mornings of training were absolutely worth it in a much bigger way — it wasn’t just about me tackling a personal goal. It was about giving back to my community.”
Cusano, an avid donor and volunteer of the Food Bank for the last five years, decided to sign up as a Team #WeFeedLA runner at this year’s marathon. Originally from New York, Cusano has been in LA for 12 years, where he witnesses firsthand the struggles of those in our community.
His motivation also came from believing in the mission of the Food Bank and helping those less fortunate through an organization that prides itself on providing food resources to the community’s less fortunate, no questions asked.
He says the biggest takeaway from the experience was the unanticipated impacts on his life. “I am a runner, and it made sense what I was doing: the many unexpected lifestyle training and changes and living that lifestyle and to have the mindset, physically and mentally, to focus on one goal and why I was doing it and to tie in the Food Bank and being able to help people and making that a part of my bigger day-to-day life.”
We asked him why giving back to those in need was necessary, particularly food assistance.
He replied, “Because we need to, and if we don’t do it, person, by person, it won’t happen otherwise.”
On behalf of the whole LA Regional Food Bank Team, our partner agency network of 600+ charities, and the food-insecure individuals and families we provide food assistance to, we thank all participating Team #WeFeedLA Marathon runners who laced up their running sneakers to help support the mission of the Food Bank.
It takes initiative to take the first step. Malik, Cusano and all of the participating runners are a prime example of an engaged hunger-relief advocate who’s taken that first step and impacted many lives. We hope their story can inspire others to help and fundraise for our community members in great need. Learn more about how you can help your community through fundraising.
As we move further into 2023, new data is emerging that highlights the alarming extent of food insecurity in Los Angeles. Learn more here.
Foothill Unity Center in Monrovia helps families from all walks of life get the food assistance they need. Learn more here.
The CalFresh program will change eligibility criteria for college students starting June 10. Learn more here.
The Food Bank’s partner agency is addressing food insecurity in the San Fernando Valley. Learn more here.