Food for Families
In 2020, the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges teamed up with the Los Angeles Valley College Family Resource Center and Imperfect Foods to deliver close to 5,000 boxes of food to students in need through the Food for Families program.
Thirty percent of the Los Angeles Community College District’s students are parents, and because many of them face food insecurity at some point during their education, the foundation already had a food distribution program in place in which students could apply for grocery gift cards.
“But when the pandemic hit, we really saw how difficult it was for parents during this time and knew we needed to do more,” says Michael Fuller, director of institutional advancement for the LACCD.
To help, Fuller secured a US$1 million grant from the California Community Foundation. One requirement of the grant, though, was that the award was only for food. With the existing gift card program, it was too cumbersome to verify that the money was being used exclusively for food so Fuller and his team needed to brainstorm alternatives.
“We knew we were focusing on families, so we spoke with Marni Roosevelt, founder and director of the LAVC Family Resource Center. She and her team helped us ultimately land on a partnership with [grocery delivery service] Imperfect Foods,” Fuller explained.
Amber Angel, program coordinator for FRC, curated the food boxes by choosing what she thought would be appealing to parents (produce, pasta, rice, beans) and to children (snacks and holiday cookie kits). Once student applications were received and reviewed, the list of recipients was passed on to Imperfect Foods, which distributed the boxes using its existing delivery service.
Fuller and his team received thousands of thank-you notes for the food and, especially, the direct delivery. Some of the students wrote about being in grocery deserts and how great it was to receive fresh produce and quality items.
Additionally, “there were families who were infected with COVID and who couldn’t go out to the store themselves, and there were families with small children who didn’t feel comfortable taking their kids out or who didn’t have childcare to allow the parents to go to the store,” says Fuller. “The delivery aspect ending up being a huge benefit of the program.”
Not only did Food for Families provide food, but there was a positive psychological impact as well. The thank-you notes mentioned the boost that families got from knowing that someone cared about them and that people were looking out for them. Many students said that the program made it possible for them to celebrate the holidays or to get through to the new year. One mother even described it as “a box of hope.”
About the author(s)
Caitlin Lukacs is the CASE manager of editorial content.