Volunteers needed to help thwart food insecurity
This past year has undoubtedly been one of the most uncertain periods in a generation. Yet, while many businesses have been struggling, one business, Food Finders, has been going nonstop.
In fact, Food Finders, a 32-year-old food recovery and hunger relief nonprofit organization, has been booming ever since COVID hit.
Food Finders serves not just the local area, but four counties across Southern California. Without missing a beat, it has been operating every day, answering the increased demand for food at local pantries, shelters, missions and community centers.
Its headquarters, recently moved to Los Alamitos, is the actionpacked hub. With a staff of 15 and a network of volunteers, some from within Leisure World, thousands of pounds of donated food is managed and moved daily from donor to recipient, without ever seeing a warehouse.
You may know Food Finders as one of the participants in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive that occurs each May. According to Patti Larson, a Seal Beach resident who’s worked at Food Finders for more than 10 years, “Our participation with the Seal Beach Post Office each year during this drive has been a blessing, with close to 75 percent of the donated food that postal workers bring in coming from Leisure World residents.” This year and last, the event was canceled, but the organization was not deterred.
An extra dose of emergency funding ensured Food Finders could purchase pallets of nonper ishable items to help fill in gaps and make sure pantries were stocked with the food that normally resulted from the drive.
Its fresh food rescue program is the meat and potatoes of what they do.
“What many people don’t realize is that we don’t just get food donated from restaurants; we are working with the produce mart in downtown L.A., grocers, hospitals, schools, caterers, event venues and distribution centers— basically anywhere with food overages.
“Last year, despite the drop in donations at the beginning of the year, we collected and distributed more than 16 million pounds of food,” Larson said.
The food gets taken directly to places like Casa Youth Shelter, Cypress Senior Center, Union Rescue Mission, Lighthouse Outreach Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Long Beach Senior Center—more than 400 different partner nonprofits in all receive food on a regular basis.
But there’s much to be done still, as communities continue figuring out how to negotiate the uncertain future.
Food Finders’ services are crucial.
The good news is there are many ways you and others can help. Below are just a few:
• Volunteer to pick up and deliver food locally.
• Conduct a food drive and donate canned and other nonperishable pantry items.
• Donate monthly or one time, as a monetary supporter.
• Spread the word to friends and family to share about Food Finders’ good work.
Chronic hunger affects about 1 in 4 Californians, which includes people who are unemployed, low income and living in food deserts, according to Food Finders.
By engaging a huge network of volunteers, Food Finders is able to quickly scale and rescue enough food for 30,000 meals per day.
LWers can help by joining the effort to rescue thousands of pounds of perfectly edible food to redistribute to people who are unsure of where their next meals are coming from.
For more information, call Food Finders in Los Alamitos at (562) 283-1400 or visit www. FoodFinders.org.