A pillar of the USA’s prosperity has always been its access to abundant and high quality food. So it is shocking to discover that today, one in six people living in Los Angeles County will wake up uncertain of where their next meal is coming from. Even sadder is the fact that almost half those going hungry will be seniors and children.
In response to this social catastrophe, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank works on the frontlines with 680 partners distributing food parcels to more than a quarter of million Los Angelinos every month. And they are able to meet this demand through not only the donation of fresh produce and packaged food, but also by the volunteering of 27,000 local people who work in the Food Bank’s distribution facilities.
After coming to work in LA as an international travel agent, self-confessed “foodie” Helga Brandt was stunned when she learnt of this dire situation. For Helga food is both an essential and a luxury of life. “It is just so horrible to think people here are not able to be fed, and it’s even worse when I think about the children,” says Helga.
It is this thought that motivates Helga and her colleagues to organize their company’s volunteer service at Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Along with her daily duties at New World Travel, located near to LAX, Helga coordinates the twice-yearly trip to the Food Bank to assist feeding the needy in Los Angeles County.
Helga points out that this unseen famine is a result of local people being forced to make the hard decision between paying essential bills or putting food on the table. Many of the people the Food Bank helps are not the destitute or homeless, but are families with only one bread-winner working for minimum wage, or a series of low paying jobs. These families face life in low income or impoverished neighbourhoods and many rely on the Food Bank’s handouts as an important hand up to a better day ahead.
The Food Bank distributes on average 162,000 pounds of food daily and that takes a lot of hands. Helga and her team work either packing food parcels to be transported to the Food Bank’s agencies across the county or assisting with the initial sorting of food and other goods that are donated. “We work in 4 hour shifts and it can be hot and tiring work, but knowing what we do will feed someone in our city who is hungry is reward in itself,” adds Helga.
Executive Vice President at New World Travel, Jeff Karnes, is dedicated to managing a sustainable business in Los Angeles and volunteering is part of the company’s contribution to the city. “While it is not compulsory for our staff to give their time to a good cause, we usually have more than a quarter of our office turn out to help at the LA Regional Food Bank,” says Jeff.
The next volunteer day will be on Saturday the 21st of March and Jeff says he is extending an invitation to businesses that work with New World Travel to also get involved.
Jeff credits his company’s enthusiasm for volunteering to more than just the feel good factor of giving back. “It’s the experience of actually seeing what’s going on in our city and county, to be in touch with the challenges and do something about it, as well as meeting like-minded people from many other businesses and groups who are willing to give up their free time,” Jeff concludes.
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
1734 East 41st Street
New World Travel
New World Travel
5959 W. Century Blvd.,
Los Angeles, California 90045-6507