Los Angeles Food Bank

How A Food Bank is Solving LA’s Hunger Crisis


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Los Angeles County, now the nation’ most populated county, is in the midst of a hunger crisis. Due to the soaring costs of housing, an estimated 1.4 million Angelenos struggle with food insecurity — forced to make difficult choices between paying rent or putting enough food on the table. As a leading institution in the fight against hunger, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank gives hope to the 1 in 7 people who must constantly worry about where and how they will get their next meal.

The food bank feeds 300,000 Angelenos every month. Annually, they distribute more than 67 million pounds of food, 20 percent being fresh produce. Through the support of more than 650 partner agencies — including mobile pantries, faith-based organizations and community outreach centers — food-insecure families in LA County are given proper nourishment. Notable partners include the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club, Salvation Army and Volunteers of America.

The food bank’s vision that “no one goes hungry in Los Angeles County,” applies to all groups of people — regardless of their age, ethnicity, employment status or education level. Of those receiving food assistance, 22 percent are children. “Lack of access to healthy food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health,” says Courtney Morra, the food bank’s marketing manager. “Children need nutrients so they can grow, develop and focus on learning instead of thinking about the food they need.”

Poor nutrition caused by lack of food can lead to deficiencies in iron, iodine, and zinc which can result in brain impairment — hindering a child’s ability to do well in school. Hunger also leads to poor self-esteem in kids as well as feelings of isolation and embarrassment. Anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression are just some of the behavioral problems linked to hunger.

To combat this growing issue, the food bank operates the Kids Café Program, giving children access to healthy meals and snacks — both during and after school hours. It is the country’s largest meal service program exclusively for food-insecure children. Additionally, their BackPack Program provides children with six nutritionally balanced meals to go home with on the weekend, ensuring that they show up on Monday well-nourished and ready to learn.

Seniors are another group facing food insecurity, in staggering numbers. More than half of Los Angeles County residents aged 65 and older do not make enough income to meet their basic needs, causing many to choose inexpensive foods with low-nutritional value. Because their aging bodies are weaker and more prone to illness, seniors are especially vulnerable to malnutrition. Through the largest senior food assistance program in the country, the LA Regional Food Bank provides monthly food kits to food-insecure senior. Each 30-pound kit contains staples like milk, beans, grains, and canned fruits and vegetables.

Aside from just providing food, the food bank aims to instill healthy eating habits in families through nutrition education. Hands-on classes and cooking demonstrations show children, adults, and seniors how to prepare meals with nutritious ingredients. This empowers families with the tools and information needed so they can continue to make healthy choices the future.

Since its founding in 1973, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed enough food for more than 1 billion meals. This work is largely in thanks to their partner agencies, donors and volunteers who have generously contributed their time and resources. There is still, however, a great need for continued support. “The biggest challenge we face is the size of the population,” Morra explains. “Although unemployment has dropped, hunger has not decreased in our community.” Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to give back. People can volunteer their time to help sort and pack food or even start their own virtual food drive. Through donations, fundraising or simply sharing about their mission on social media, everyone can help fight against food insecurity in Los Angeles — and end the hunger cycle once and for all.

Visit lafoodbank.org for more information on how to donate or volunteer.

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Aira Pamintuan
Aira is a food and lifestyle writer living in LA. Born in Manila and raised in New York, she now believes that good tacos and sunshine can fix most problems. In her free time, you might catch Aira taking pictures of artsy walls. Tell her about your favorite ice cream spot: @airakrystel

One Comment

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  1. Thank you For the article. I’m so glad you posted this article to inform us of a community service available to people who are in need.