Food pantry supply wanes

Food pantry supply wanes

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“I’ve been doing this work for 16 years, and this is definitely the most worrisome time,” said regional food bank President Michael Flood. “The bottom line is there is not enough food – and a number of agencies are having to turn clients away and/or reduce the amount of food they’re distributing.” The report, “Hunger in Los Angeles County 2006,” was released on National Hunger Awareness Day and follows one issued in 2001. It was based on face-to-face interviews with clients and emergency food pantry volunteers and staff. “Life is hard, because you want to give the best to your kids,” Margarita Orozco, 40, of North Hills said Tuesday through a translator, picking up supplies for her husband and five children from the MEND food pantry in Pacoima. “It’s important,” she said of the 70-pound box of grub that included corn flakes, chicken and cauliflower. “When I can’t work, it provides for my family.” The soaring cost of housing in Los Angeles County has led to a whopping increase in demand for food assistance, creating a critical shortage of supplies for the needy, according to a report released Tuesday. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which supplies most food pantries in Southern California, reported a 22.5 percent jump in recipients since 2001. An estimated 674,000 residents now seek food at pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, compared to 535,000 residents five years ago. And nearly a third of pantries are forced to turn away hungry clients because they don’t have enough donated food – a shortage estimated at nearly 11 million pounds, the report said. According to the food bank report: One-third of emergency food recipients experienced hunger in the past year, with 66 percent saying they could not afford balanced meals. Of those seeking food help, 57 percent are adults, 28 percent are children and 15 percent are seniors. In addition, 84 percent are U.S. citizens, and 53 percent earn less than $10,000 a year. While 69 percent of working-age recipients are unemployed, 34 percent have a tech school or college diploma; 36 percent have no high school diploma. The report blamed the food gap on a leveling off or decrease in surplus food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and commercial food suppliers. While fresh produce is plentiful, donations of staples such as canned fruits and vegetables, as well as rice and pinto beans, has decreased. For this reason, food bank officials say they need more donations to buy food. “To really reduce hunger, we’ve got to look at stable, ongoing funding support,” Flood said. In response to a report that 166,000 San Fernando Valley adults were at risk of going hungry, the Valley Interfaith Council launched a Preventing Hunger Coalition last year. However, VIC’s coalition of 20 food pantries, supplied by the regional food bank, reported a steady decrease in cash and food donations since 2001. And while donations decrease, demand at some VIC pantries increased by 15 percent a year. “The need is to get the word out to seniors that there are locations they can go to receive a meal, because those locations are underutilized,” said Michael Mizrahi, who serves on the VIC board. “We’ve got the food, we just need the seniors.” At Meet Each Need with Dignity, which saw a 25 percent dip in supplies last holiday season, Bill Berg and 11 volunteers doled out the food. “I’m here to help,” he declared from a small window backed by a roomful of food. “Family of six: Bread, chicken, milk, …” Orozco, whose gardener husband earns $1,500 a month to feed five kids, cleans houses part time. Their rent: $738 a month. “I’m really grateful,” she said. “There’s no other place to go for this much food.” Lualhapi Villarojo, a native of the Philippines with no U.S. benefits, stepped up for her box. “This is very painful,” said Villarojo, 77, of Lake View Terrace. “America is helping, giving me food.” For 19-year-old mother Luisa Leyva, the handout was especially important. Her father – a bus boy and sole breadwinner for her family of seven – had just suffered a stroke. “They just gave food to my baby,” she said, holding her 3 1/2-month-old daughter to her breast as she loaded food into a battered van. “Right now, we’re in a really bad situation.” dana.bartholomew @dailynews.com (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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