The Foodbank of Southern California

The Foodbank of Southern California provides sustenance and proper nutrition to our community’s hungry citizens.
Below are a few of their success stories.

Cecilia

Cecilia, age 90, lives in senior housing in Long Beach, and has a studio apartment. While being a life-long low-wage earner, she worked past her full retirement age, so that she could maintain a semblance of the golden years she had yearned for. At age 76, after 40+ years working as a restaurant hostess and cashier, she was forced into retirement due to advanced arthritis in her hands and feet.

Cecilia is totally broke, spending down her meager nest egg in 5 years. She relies on social security, and subsidized housing. She has a limited food budget that includes $147/month in SNAP (food stamps) benefits. There is no extra money, and she lives a bare-bones existence. “I have a lot of guilt and shame for not having planned well. It kills me when I look in the refrigerator and cupboards, and nothing is there,” she said.

Fortunately, Cecilia lives in a neighborhood that has resources to help her out. She takes a shuttle to the Senior Center and participates in the bi-weekly Brown Bag program. For the program Cecilia volunteers at the check-in desk, where she greets and chats with participants. She takes home items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain cereal, nuts, canned fish or chicken, eggs, pasta, crackers, rice, beans, and other staples. “Recently, I obtained enough food to make a pot of pheasant soup, to have throughout the week,” she commented. “That simple pot of soup gave me so much joy, I still love to cook, and the food I receive lets me cook from scratch.”

Jorge, Elina and Eduardo

On the surface, Eduardo appears to be a typical 16 year old, living in Harbor City, CA; a neighborhood with a small town feeling, that is adjacent to other neighborhoods known for gangs, violence, and drug. What most don’t realize is that when Eduardo was an infant he was diagnosed with Addison-Schilder Disease; a rare, inherited disorder that leads to progressive brain damage, failure of the adrenal glands and eventually death. Fortunately, at age 5 Eduardo was given a bone marrow transplant and endured chemotherapy that stopped the disease from taking over his body.

This has been a tough decade for the family. Eduardo’s hair finally grew back, but he still needs medication and doctor care. Meanwhile, Elina and her husband Jorge (who works 67 hour a week at two low paying jobs) continue to care for their son.

Fortunately, during this trying period the family has been helped with a weekly grocery delivery that included USDA goods and other foods from The Foodbank of Southern California. Additionally, during Easter, Thanksgiving and specially Christmas the family receives a holiday basket and gifts.

Eduardo is in 10th grade now, he lost a year with the transplant and chemo but he worked hard to catch up. Eduardo would like to be a doctor when he grows up. His mother (Elina) is inspired by Eduardo’s strength, determination and don’t quit spirit. As she said “When things get hard and she starts to get depressed all she was to do is remember how her community foodbank helped her family and that gives her the courage to continue on.”

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Cory

Cory, age 70, lives in an apartment near downtown Long Beach. In retirement, he worked part-time as a secret shopper to supplement his social security. When Covid-19 took hold, the number of assignments dried up, and he no longer had additional income. Additionally, the senior center he frequented a few times a week closed. He no longer could attend congregate dining, nor receive a Brown Bag distribution every other Wednesday. This left him with insufficient access to nutritious food to cover three meals a day.

Cory called The Foodbank for help. He was referred to a Brown Bag site that was maintaining its bi-weekly distribution, and reenrolled in the program. Sadly, many of his friends didn’t come to this alternative site. Some had health issues and feared getting Covid-19. Others passed away. Cory was also referred to ‘Great Plates Delivered’ Meal Program for Older Adults, offered by the City of Long Beach. The program was a free home meal delivery service for older adults, to further assist those at high risk of COVID-19 and provide essential economic stimulus to local eateries during the pandemic.

A small group of seniors, including Cory, volunteer to run the distribution site’s Brown Bag program. They sort the food received from The Foodbank and create Brown Bags for distribution. When possible, caregivers pick-up Brown Bags at the senior center, and site leaders make home delivery arrangements using staff when available. Occasionally, Cory, who is able bodied and still driving, volunteers to make deliveries.

When asked how Brown Bag has impacted his life, Cory was quick to respond. “It’s been a life-line. It’s been lonely throughout the pandemic. My kids are back east, and finally visited me at Christmas. I hate being idle and Brown Bag allows me to be useful; I have a purpose, and get to see my friends. I’m also getting plenty of food. There is so much great produce, so I can spend my budget on other food items.”

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