By Henry Fuhrmann | Cal State LA News Service
Cal State LA has extended its free distribution of groceries to students and members of the community, providing more than 1,800 bags weighing 9 tons that are being distributed during the holiday season.
The drive-thru Community Winter Food Distribution started Wednesday, Dec. 16, with each participant receiving two bags filled with produce, eggs, cheese, beans and grains. The program is open to Cal State LA students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the communities served by the university.
Distribution continued through Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 22.
Funding for the food distribution comes from a $177,000 grant from the California Community Foundation to enable Cal State LA to expand distributions from its food pantry operations. The foundation administered funds allocated to Los Angeles County under the federal CARES Act. The funds were distributed to dozens of organizations across the region to address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The university’s food distribution programs have been vital to so many of our students and our community during the crisis,” said Cal State LA President William A. Covino. “We are grateful to the California Community Foundation for its support, which has enabled the university to continue our program through the holidays.”
Since the early days of the pandemic, Cal State LA has worked with community partners to distribute food to nearly 5,000 families in need at events on campus and across Los Angeles. Approximately 120 tons of food have been handed out to students and families.
The food distribution events were conducted in collaboration with the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and Optimum Seismic Inc.
Members of the community, including Cal State LA students and employees, also took part in a free drive-thru flu shot clinic on campus. During the event, held in collaboration with Supervisor Solis and QueensCare Health Centers, participants also received 800 bags of groceries and hundreds of dental care kits.
The end-of-year Community Winter Food Distribution at Cal State LA has been coordinated by University Auxiliary Services Dining Services, with executive chef Daniel Keenan and his team preparing the grocery bags on campus, in partnership with the Division of Student Life.
With that in mind, she said, the Community Winter Food Distribution was designed as drive-thru only, with mandated face coverings and physical distancing and required advance registration.
"We will continue to support our students and families across the region as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis," said Cal State LA Executive Vice President and Provost José A. Gómez. “In building on our established campus food pantry operations, the Community Winter Food Distribution is helping those most in need this season.”
Working with its partners, Cal State LA has focused on serving food-insecure students and residents of five low-income, predominantly Latino communities in which the need is especially urgent: Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and Southeast Los Angeles. The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA documented the severe economic distress caused by the pandemic in a survey last spring of households in Southeast Los Angeles County. Half of respondents reported having lost their jobs or having their work hours reduced.
Cal State LA is maintaining its focus on student, faculty and staff well-being during the pandemic. The COVID-19 testing site on campus continues to operate, with appointments for the test available online. The testing site will close early at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24, and Thursday, Dec. 31, and will be closed on Friday, Dec. 25, and Friday, Jan. 1.
Photo: Students and community members received bags of groceries during the drive-thru Community Winter Food Distribution at Cal State LA. (Credit: Robert Huskey/Cal State LA)
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