As the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank commemorates 50 years of fighting hunger, this blog post is one in a series of blog posts that summarize the Food Bank’s incredible history starting in 1973. To catch up on our latest 50th Anniversary blog posts, please visit LAFoodBank.org/50.
The LA Regional Food Bank played a pivotal role in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent inflationary cycle, and both situations made it more difficult for people in LA County to access the food they need for themselves and their families. Throughout these difficult times, the Food Bank swiftly adapted to the rising demand for assistance and worked tirelessly to alleviate food insecurity throughout our community.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically disrupted communities worldwide, especially in Los Angeles County. As the unemployment rate soared to more than 20% and many other families experienced reduced work hours, people all over LA County struggled to put food on the table. Many families who never before sought food assistance found themselves in line to receive emergency boxes of groceries.
To respond to the elevated levels of need, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank quickly responded to increased food going out into communities all over LA County. Strategic partnerships with other nonprofits and local governments allowed the Food Bank to distribute food locally at roughly 900 locations. The Food Bank also enacted creative solutions for food distribution designed to limit the transmission of the virus but simultaneously provide safe ways for food to be distributed. Fortunately, thanks to generous people worldwide, and particularly in LA County, the Food Bank experienced an increase in food and financial contributions, and the National Guard was deployed to work alongside the Food Bank’s volunteer workforce, which suddenly had significantly more work to accomplish. During this timeframe, the food going out into the community more than doubled.
To meet the massive surge in need, the Food Bank converted its Mobile Food Pantry distributions to drive-thru distributions and hosted them all over LA County. The Food Bank also brought on new food pantries, vehicles and a new 256,000-square-foot distribution center in the City of Industry to help nutritious meals reach individuals and families facing food insecurity.
Unfortunately, the challenges faced by food-insecure families did not end with the pandemic. The subsequent inflationary period added to their hardships as the cost of essential goods, including food and energy, continued to rise. Families already struggling to make ends meet found their limited resources further strained, exacerbating their vulnerability.
Recognizing the pressing need to assist those affected by inflation, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank redoubled its efforts to provide essential food support. Through ongoing partnerships with partner agencies, government agencies, donors and volunteers, the Food Bank maximized the value of every donated dollar.
As the unemployment rate returned to pre-pandemic levels, the need for food assistance only declined modestly, and in the Spring of 2023, as the pandemic phase ended, The emergency allocation for the CalFresh program ended. As of June 2023, the Food Bank is seeing a 9% increase on the average number of people who seek help each month.
To those who supported the Food Bank through COVID-19 and inflation (and beyond), Thank you. Over its 50-year journey, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has stood as a pillar of hope and support for the community, particularly during times of crisis. Through its swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic and dedication to combating the challenges posed by inflation, the Food Bank has reaffirmed its commitment to alleviating hunger and nourishing the future of Los Angeles County.
Unfortunately, as the past several years have taught us, one thing after another continues to present challenges for people in our community who face Food Insecurity. From the pandemic to inflation to a reduction in benefits, it is clear that the most significant impact you can make is to help the people around you all year long. An excellent way to support your neighbors all year is to sign up as a monthly donor to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.