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Fighting Hunger: The Never Ending Battle

By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

More people go hungry in Los Angeles County than anywhere else in America — the roughly 1.5 million people who need food assistance is a number that’s remained fairly constant throughout this decade. Other counties across America rank higher in terms of population percentage, but Los Angeles ranks highest in the sheer number of chronically hungry mouths to feed.

Government and private programs address hunger based on the principle that freedom from hunger is a right. Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.”

Giving Tuesday is Nov. 28 but the fight against hunger never ends. For communities in the Harbor Area, several food banks and charities are constantly serving residents who need food assistance. With the holidays approaching, many organizations are scheduling food drives — but they’re always in need of food, money and volunteers:

  • Carson: St. Vincent De Paul Society, in partnership with St. Philomena’s Catholic Church, distributes bags of groceries every Tuesday, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. The volunteers estimate that 25 to 30 families and 5 to 10 homeless individuals are fed every week. Most of the clients come from Carson, but also from Torrance and Long Beach. They also distribute clothing and toys. 21922 S. Main St., Carson. Details: (310) 835-7161, svdpla.org
  • San Pedro: Harbor Interfaith has no kitchen or pantry but accepts donations of food (and money and clothing). 670 W. 9th St., San Pedro. Details:  (310) 831-9123, (310) 831- 0603, www.harborinterfaith.org
  • Torrance: New Challenge Ministries is the largest food bank in the South Bay, said John Hernandez, president and senior pastor. It distributes about 4,000 pounds of food per week to about 15,000 people every month via about 20 organizations. They include the Boys & Girls Club and the Los Angeles Unified School District. (The district assists about 600 hungry families, including Washington High School, which teaches more homeless and foster children than any other school in California). Many grocery and other food companies donate their surplus. 21804 Halldale Ave. Details: (310) 320-4171, newchallengeministries.com
  • Torrance: GA United Services, through which Vern Ryan and his daughter Arlene Hyde have distributed about 150,000 pounds of food to perhaps a dozen organizations in almost as many communities—including Long Beach, Carson, Watts, Lomita, Gardena, Wilmington, and Torrance. They estimate they feed about 500 people on a weekly basis. Torrance’s post offices donate everything collected from their annual food drives—about two tons of food every year. Other support comes from such companies as Trader Joe’s. 22121½ Vermont Ave., Torrance. Details: (310) 530-0400, gaunitedservices.org
  • Long Beach: Food Bank of Southern California distributes food directly and through other nonprofit organizations to about 250,000 people throughout the county every week (about 2.5 percent of the population). Truckloads of surplus produce come in and corporations provide employee volunteers regularly. 1444 San Francisco Ave., Long Beach. Details: (562) 435-3577, foodbankofsocal.org
  • Long Beach: Rescue Mission is planning Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, along with food and gift drives. Volunteer coordinator Bethanie Miller estimates, “We serve about 19,000 meals a month and distribute about 2,000 articles of clothing.” The mission serves meals at the 140-bed Samaritan House (for men) and the 50-bed Lydia House (for women and children) and to the general public. 1430 Pacific Ave., Long Beach. Details: (562) 591-1292, lbrm.org

Lyn Jensen
Lyn Jensen
Lyn Jensen has been a freelance journalist in southern California since the 80s. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Weekly, the Los Angeles Reader, Music Connection, Bloglandia, Senior Reporter, and many other periodicals. She blogs about music, manga, and more at lynjensen.blogspot.com and she graduated from UCLA with a major in Theater Arts. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

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