Cal State LA helps feed families in need at Southeast L.A. food distribution

July 22, 2020

By Henry Fuhrmann | Cal State LA News Service

Cal State LA collaborated with community partners in Maywood on Wednesday to distribute food to hundreds of families suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Volunteers from the university partnered with the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA and Optimum Seismic Inc., a leading earthquake retrofit company with facilities in nearby Vernon and Huntington Park, for the event. The volunteers helped pack and distribute food at the YMCA, the latest in a series of twice weekly distributions at that location, about 6 miles south of the university.

Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA Executive Director Gerry Salcedo lauded the volunteer effort, saying it provided much-needed community support.

“This food distribution program is an important element of our efforts to strengthen the foundations of our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Salcedo said.

The city of Maywood is one of many communities in Southeast Los Angeles County and surrounding areas that have been particularly hard hit during the outbreak. A survey released June 4 by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA documented the economic distress in the area, which straddles the 710 Freeway. Half of the respondents had lost their jobs or had their work hours reduced; about a quarter had less than $100 in savings for emergencies.

Partnering with the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA and Optimum Seismic aligns with Cal State LA’s mission of engagement and service for the public good, said Jose A. Gomez, the university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, as well as a member of the board of directors of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.

“More than ever,” Gomez said, “we need to find creative ways to bring people together to assist children and families in the communities we serve.”

Optimum Seismic CEO Ali Sahabi, whose firm donated funding for the food distribution, said the event is one of many worthwhile programs offered by the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA. “We hope this attention will generate greater public awareness, financial contributions and volunteer support for the YMCA,” Sahabi said.

Cal State LA is engaged in community care initiatives across its service area. Last month, the university worked with Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, county agencies and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank for a free drive-thru food distribution that provided groceries and baby supplies for 2,700 families.

Cal State LA has a strong partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. In 2017, the two organizations joined with the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to launch Achieve LA, a program dedicated to creating pathways to higher education for local youths and providing civic engagement opportunities for area residents. The program is being conducted at YMCA locations in East, South and Southeast Los Angeles, including Southeast-Rio Vista.

The Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA, at 4801 E. 58th Street in Maywood, distributes the free meals, consisting of sandwiches and fruit, starting at 10:45 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday.

Photo: Cal State LA volunteer provides groceries to a family during a food distribution in Maywood. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.

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