Collaboration is at the heart of the fight against hunger. In Los Angeles County, an estimated two million people face food or nutrition insecurity. The collective efforts to close the hunger gap through initiatives of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and 600 nonprofit partner agencies are vital to maximize impact.
Working together enhances our ability to address various community needs, bringing a sharper focus to the fight against nutrition insecurity. By collaborating, we pool our influence, raise awareness and leverage resources, enabling a more efficient mobilization against hunger.
This collaborative approach facilitates a more extensive reach in responding to economic shifts and health crises. Partnering with nonprofits, for-profit entities, and government organizations strengthens local connections and energizes the community to participate actively in hunger relief efforts. We can make a more significant impact and create a more robust, united front against food and nutrition insecurity.
“I believe that food distributions reduce food insecurity and stress levels because they know there’s a source or a sure thing for them to come and get food such as fresh fruits and vegetables – I think that releases some of that energy they need to spend on stressing about where their next meal is going to come from or if they’re going to have a next meal,” says St. Agnes Parish’s Center Director Maria Ahumada.
Our Saviour Center’s Director of Operations, Jose Vega, shares that he originally started at the nonprofit organization as a young man and has grown into his current role. For as long as he remembers, the organization has partnered with the Food Bank for about 39 years.
Vega shares that he and his team used to pick up food resources from the Food Bank in a small truck before growing into the current relationship where substantial food deliveries are made directly to the nonprofit.
“This community is very low income with working families, and any extra help they can get goes a long way,” he says. “Right now, we’re serving about 250 – 300 people per day, twice a week.”
“The need is here. It’s a lot of work running a program of this size but rewarding. We’re here to help, no questions asked. It is a process to get situated and wait in line for food however, people wouldn’t go through all of that unless they needed the help. Running a food pantry takes a lot of money to operate. If community members are inspired to give, it would help us continue our work.”
“People are still going day-to-day without knowing where their next meal is coming from and we’re responding to that need by providing food resources here,” Foothill Unity Center Chief Executive Officer Tashera Taylor explains. “We can access or receive those food resources from the LA Regional Food Bank to distribute them to our neighbors. With the elevated or inflated prices of groceries and gas, we know this is a support for the community of neighbors that we serve. We’re able to provide more by having this partnership with the LA Regional Food Bank.”
“The need has never gone back to the levels before the pandemic itself.”
If there is anyone who 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.
North Valley Caring Services (NVCS) is a non-profit organization based in North Hills that provides various services and programs to low-income families, individuals and underserved communities. Among the services that NVCS offers is a food pantry that distributes groceries to those in need.
The LA Regional Food Bank is a reliable source of food for NVCS and plays a significant role in the success of its food distribution. The NVCS food pantry is a vital resource for people in the area who are struggling with food insecurity, and it serves as a bridge between those in need and the available food.
Senior Pastor Norman Johnson has been with First New Christian Fellowship Church for over 30 years. During this time, he has gotten to know members of the community, as well as individuals who attend the church solely to pick up food for their families. For many, he recalls, the food distributions are a “lifeline” for families.
The food distributions started as a way to help those individuals and families who were in need of food assistance. However, through time, emergencies like the pandemic and with the impact of inflation, the need has grown in the community. The First New Christian Fellowship Church continues serving the food desert community and goes the extra mile by helping those with transportation limitations.
“The right to eat is the most fundamental human right we have,” said Pastor Johnson. “Everyone deserves the right to eat.”
READ MORE > A Food Pantry Meeting the Need in a Food Desert
When Juan Hernandez and his family first went to Central City Neighborhood Partners (CCNP) for a toy drive back in 1998, they weren’t aware of the impact it would have on their lives. After the toy drive, Hernandez and his family continued to go to CCNP for their services. But as Hernandez got older, he started getting more involved with everyday operations, starting off as an intern.
Now, he is employed full-time with CCNP and knows the impact that the organization has on the community, himself, and on his family.
For 60 years, the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) has been serving the Los Angeles community, helping individuals from all walks of life thrive thanks to the several services they provide. Around 10 years ago, MAOF began its partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and together, began providing food assistance to the community.
“Without the LA Regional Food Bank, we wouldn’t be able to provide the services that we provide here at MAOF,” Gutierrez said. “It is through the LA Regional Food Bank that we gather all the food that we distribute.”
Friends in Deed consists of several services that are available to the community, including the food pantry. Led by Food Pantry Director Tim Nistler, Friends In Deed serves an average of 440 families per week, providing them with fresh produce, canned goods and meats to last a family for around a week or two.
With the rising demand for food assistance, there were days when Nistler was unsure whether they’d have enough food to go around or places to store it. Thanks to a capacity grant from the Food Bank, Friends In Deed was able to get an 8’x10’ freezer and a similar-sized refrigerator that has allowed them to continue serving the community.
“Those things have been huge,” said Nistler. “They have allowed us to bring in so much more food, especially on the produce side. As long as I’ve been here, fresh fruits and vegetables have always been a huge thing, and by having those, we’ve been able to give out more produce.”
Although the pandemic has subsided, families like the Cortez’s are what inspire Jones and the East Side Riders Bike Club to continue hosting their weekly food distributions in the Watts community.
“This is already a low-income community, so the need is going to be greater, the need is going to be longer; the effects of the pandemic are going to last longer than any other community,” East Side Riders Bike Club Co-Founder and President John Jones III, said. “Inflation has risen the fact that people are having to come through and needing the essentials of milk, meat. We see that the line is growing, we see people are reeling.
“Trying to recover from a pandemic, now gas prices are high, food prices are high, this is a big blessing for the community,” he added.
The partnerships between the LA Regional Food Bank and nonprofits in LA County are essential for a coordinated and impactful response to hunger, ensuring resources are distributed effectively across the diverse and expansive region. We encourage you to join the fight against hunger today.