The WDACS Center – Providing Food Assistance to All Walks of Life

The WDACS Center – Providing Food Assistance to All Walks of Life

It wasn’t long ago that the Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Center (WDACS), a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Partner Agency, was serving 250 families a week. When the pandemic hit, that number rose and the agency began to serve 250 families a day.

WDACS temporarily closed its doors to the public when the pandemic hit. The Community Center’s Director, Sandra Gonzalez, and her staff gathered to continue answering phone calls from the community and thinking of ways to continue to provide food assistance to those in need.

“When we first shut down, we had clients calling us the first week crying because the grocery store shelves were empty; they didn’t know what they were going to do,” Gonzalez said. “We see the difference we make. My staff was in tears answering phone calls.”

FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR ALL

Located in East Los Angeles, where the 60 and 710 Freeways meet, WDACS is the main hub to 10 additional agencies that are spread across Los Angeles County, serving areas from Santa Clarita to San Pedro. The Food Bank delivers to WDACS, and a subcontracted company delivers to the different agencies throughout the County.

The staple item that WDACS and all of its agencies can count on is the emergency food kit – a 15-20 pound box filled with shelf-stable food that is prepared by the thousands of volunteers the Food Bank welcomes each year. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and protein items are also included in their weekly delivery, but there’s one non-food item that is also very much appreciated amongst the community – diapers.

“The partnership with the diaper program with the LA Regional Food Bank, that again is so helpful – diapers are so expensive,” the Center’s Director said. “You see clients that are working individuals but need the assistance. It’s either diapers, or they have to pay a bill or buy groceries, so this helps offset their costs.”

One of the clients that benefit from the diaper program is Jacqueline Ramos. A single mother to a seven-month-old daughter, Ramos lives on her own. Initially unemployed when the pandemic hit, the road to recovery has been hard for the young mother as she is slowly getting more hours to help provide for her daughter.

Still, times are tough as she can only count on her income to help pay rent, bills, groceries and everything else that comes with raising a baby.

“I come every month to get diapers and sometimes food,” Reyes said. “The diaper donations have been helping me a lot because literally every 30 minutes, I’m changing her diaper. I’ve been coming every month ever since she was born. I’m a single mother living on my own and the diaper and food assistance has helped cut down costs for me.”

A STROKE OF LUCK

Just down the street from WDACS is La Posada, a senior living community where Carmen Doop found a place to call home. She said she was lucky to get a place at La Posada, and she’s also lucky to have found out about the services provided at WDACS.

A friend of Doop told her about the center down the street. She saw flyers posted around her living community and began asking questions about the services they provided. Soon enough, Doop was making her way to the service center weekly to take full advantage of their services.

Before the pandemic, WDACS was a multi-service center, including senior services that comprised of congregate meals, vocational and recreational programming. Once the center shut down to the public, these services were no longer available, but food assistance continued to be accessible.

“You get your beans, you get your rice, sometimes you get oatmeal, you get those meals that you can prepare yourself and they last a long time,” Doop said.

“My mom taught me well. Not to go to these places where they charge you an arm and a leg. I can’t afford them! I’m very grateful to have this here,” she added.

AN ENDLESS NEED

There’s no doubt that the work performed at WDACS and the nearly 700 Food Bank Partner Agencies consists of a lot of planning and execution that involves physical labor. But to know that a parent is going to go to bed with the peace of mind that their children have been fed, that a senior doesn’t have to struggle with food insecurity, makes it all worth it.

“[The work is] very tiring, but it’s very rewarding,” Gonzalez said. “When we’re done, we’re tired, but we’re done with a smile.”

“I don’t think the need is ever going to go away. But while the need is there, we’ll be here,” she finalized.

Donations to the Food Bank help programs like the one at the WDACS Center. If you are in a position to help, please donate. Together, #WeFeedLA.

Together, #WeFeedLA

If you are able to, please continue supporting the LA Regional Food Bank because your contribution will go toward food assistance programs that can make a positive difference for single mothers like Jacqueline and, unfortunately, many other food-insecure families of Los Angeles County. 

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