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Let’s Feed LA: emergency food relief reveals the power of collaboration

Let’s Feed LA: emergency food relief reveals the power of collaboration

March 20, 2021 Michael R. Dimock

At about the time the pandemic hit in March 2020, ROC had entered a partnership with Wholesome Wave to aid them in bringing a new nutrition incentive technology to under-resourced families in Los Angeles and Sacramento counties. But with a request from the Los Angeles County Emergency Food Security Branch, ROC and Wholesome Wave had to think and act much bigger. We brought in PHI colleagues from the Center for Wellness and Nutrition to undertake a major CARES Act funded COVID emergency food access program. Titled, Let’s Feed LA, our three organizations worked hand-n-glove to support nineteen community-based organizations (CBOs) to deliver $22.6 million in nutrition benefits to 29,500 families (over 100,000 individuals) in seven weeks.

Our key to success were the 19 CBOs because they were already serving those Los Angelenos hardest to reach. Together these CBO received $1 million in funding for their outreach and sign up of beneficiaries. The one-time benefit arrived as either a pack of gift cards for Albertsons or Northgate Gonzales Markets or via the Tangelo app with an e-wallet that allowed the user to order boxes of food delivered to their door. Individuals or families of three or less received $600. Families of four or more received $900. In the end 54% of the beneficiaries chose gift cards and 46% utilized Tangelo. Both our team and the County felt the app service would help to lower the impact of the pandemic by allowing beneficiaries to remain at home.

The work to help food insecure folks during the pandemic and economic shut down was and remains essential and ROC is honored to have played a critical team-leadership role. Moreover, the scale, scope and speed increased our understanding of how to serve California communities in this age when global warming will more frequently cause large-scale disasters. Resilience requires the ability to quickly act to support those suffering. Wholesome Wave and ROC are now working to reach more communities in the state because the pandemic and its hit on the economy will remain a challenge throughout 2021.

Photo credit: Joel Muniz, Unsplash.com

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