Happy New Year!

It is a new day and new year, filled with much hope and anticipation of a better season and a return to “normal.” Over the past few months, we have heard questions and concerns from community members about news stories related to Los Angeles's homeless outreach strategy.

The City of LA has shifted its approach to prioritize clearing street encampments out of public spaces across Los Angeles. Not long ago the conversations were focused on food shortages, toilet paper hoarding and sky rocketing fuel prices. The nightly news bombarded us with pictures of long lines of cars waiting to receive food boxes.

Rising food prices have resulted in both food insecurity and increased improvisation. Geri Henchy, director of nutrition policy for the Food Research & Action Center in Washington, D.C., said the rising food prices are a disaster for low-income families. “Many of them are already struggling,” Henchy said. “And as prices have increased and so rapidly, they cannot adjust. They don’t have room in their budgets.”

Informed by over 20 years of experience, we know that solutions to the plight of struggling families and individuals must be service-led and focused on connecting people to permanent solutions, not clearing them out of sight. As we chart a course forward, we have an opportunity to transform how we connect people with resources and services in the community.

With your support and advocacy, we will continue our work to connect our neighbors to resources that best meet their needs. We will also keep building as many new partnerships and alliances as possible with a goal to create a community where no child is forced to go without eating; No senior will have to make a difficult choice of food or paying utility bills; And where surplus food is consumed and not discarded to the landfill. Thank you for being part of the solution with us as we continue “Fighting Hunger – Feeding Hope.”

Here is a typical story of how your partnership makes a difference in challenging times:

Stephanie relied on food assistance for herself and her daughter more than a decade ago, when she was a young, single mom trying to make ends meet, but had not needed to seek help since. Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit and Andy, her husband, could no longer work his real estate job.

Stephanie and Andy were not sure he would be eligible for unemployment so, to ensure their three teenage sons had enough to eat, they went through the line to receive food at the weekend pantry. The family did not end up needing to attend the following week, but chose to volunteer as a way to give back.

“No one should feel bad about going to accept food,” Stephanie said. “We all have situations come about that we have no control over. Sometimes, it’s hard to reach out for help. So that’s why I wanted to volunteer — because I know that I’ve been in that situation before.”

Whatever their circumstance, folks deserve to have food on the table. The Valley Food Bank is proud to support resilient families during these unusual times and beyond. Of course, we could not do any of the good acts of compassion, connection, and dignity without everyone’s help: volunteers, donors, our board, our staff, and all who give of their time and treasure. Thank you!

Will Hernandez - Director