COVID-19 worsens L.A.’s food crisis: How to get help (or help others)

Los Angeles County residents get groceries through the Emergency Food Assistance Program, at the East Los Angeles Service Center. Photo courtesy Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County is mobilizing a Countywide response to hunger by coordinating public agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide meals to anyone in need during the current pandemic-related food crisis. An estimated 2 million people in Los Angeles County already face food-insecurity issues — and this number is sure to swell as pandemic-related economic losses take their toll.

The County is also launching new digital resources to help members of the public access food at no cost — including program sign-up information, maps, and frequently asked questions — all located on the County COVID-19 website

Individuals and families in need:

  • Get help with food expenses. CalFresh is a Nutrition Assistance Program that can help people in low-income households purchase food by increasing their food-buying power. Apply here and see eligibility requirements here.
  • Find free food near you. County agencies and partners that provide free groceries and meals are expanding their services during COVID-19. Click here to see options and find food distribution sites near you. Some programs also provide delivery.Get food delivery assistance. The County has launched a Critical Delivery Services program to deliver food and other vital items to adults aged 60+ and individuals with disabilities who are unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19. Items must be prepaid and ready for pick-up. There is no cost to the client for delivery. For more information, click here or call 1-888-863-7411.
  • For assistance, or if you do not have access to the Internet, please dial 2-1-1. Multilingual operators are available to help members of the public find free food resources. 

Service providers and nonprofits in need

  • Request volunteers. L.A. Works matches community organizations with volunteer labor and other resources. More information here.
  • Request food to redistribute. The L.A. Regional Food Bank is accepting new applications for partner agencies. Partner agencies receive free food and re-distribute it to community members. More information here.
  • Join a food recovery network. There are a number of organizations that use mobile apps with matching technology to recover unused food from restaurants and other businesses and re-distribute it to communities in need. If you are interested in donating food or receiving donated food to re-distribute, look for the following in your mobile app store: Food Finders and ChowMatch

How you can help 

  • Giving food-related offers and donations. Does your business or organization seek to sell or donate food-related resources to support COVID-19 response efforts?  The County is helping to match available food resources with those in need. Fill out an online questionnaire to let us know what food resources you have to share. Our partner providers are in need of food resources, services, and equipment including:
    • Prepared meals ready-to-eat meals: no heating required
    • Prepared meals: just heat and serve
    • Groceries: non-perishable, shelf-stable food items and perishable food such as produce, meats, and dairy
    • Specialty foods: Vegan, kosher, gluten-free, and other specialty options
    • Food delivery: drivers and vehicles, including special vehicle types such as refrigerated trucks
  • Other types of donation and support. Looking for other ways to lend a hand during this crisis? Explore the County’s COVID-19 resource page to learn how you can help, from doing wellness checks on older neighbors to donating blood.
  • Starting a food pantry. Interested in offering free food to community members? If you already have food to re-distribute or are planning to collect food items from private sources, please follow these Guidelines for Charitable Feeding Operations. If you are interested in receiving donated food to re-distribute, consider partnering with the L.A. Regional Food Bank, which is currently accepting new applications for partner pantries. More information here.
  • Volunteer your time. L.A. Works matches community organizations with volunteer labor and other resources. More information here.
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