We believe in the dignity of leftovers. Our Chewse to Connect series features stories from the field, highlighting the impact your food donations have on the community around us. This week we take a look at Chewse to Give recipient organization, Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles.
The nuts and bolts of the hunger problem in LA
Los Angeles is home to some of the best restaurants in the country (the world?). You don’t even have to leave your house to get down on some Ethiopian injera, Thai curry, or a good old-fashioned cheeseburger.
Feeding a hungry belly is usually as easy as pressing a button or hopping in the car. For many though, staving off hunger isn’t as easy. Hunger and dependable access to food is a problem that affects 1.4 million people in Los Angeles County. With Copia and Chewse, Skid Row Housing Trust is doing its part to change that.
Since 1982, the Trust, as it’s more commonly called, has been dedicated to securing safe, affordable, housing and support services to unhoused residents in Los Angeles. The non-profit takes a community approach to ending homelessness once and for all. Medical services, counseling, and now, a growing food donation-driven meal program, are just a few of the services residents receive each week.
Food donations: one step closer to self-sufficiency
Before Chewse and Copia, the Trust’s residents had to rely on referrals to food banks or soup kitchens for a meal. It’s often difficult for folks receiving services from the Trust to access fresh, quality food because of high transportation and food costs.
Even navigating a grocery store, the Trust says, proves difficult for residents who deal with medical or mental health issues. Food deliveries through Copia and Chewse to Give remove that challenge by bringing meals to residents as often as four times a day. Residents receive better, more reliable access to quality food.
We spoke with Taylor Nichols, Senior Manager of Permanent Housing at the Trust, to hear how Chewse and Copia’s food donations support their mission. With many residents trying to get back on their feet, he notes figuring out where their next meal will come from is a matter of survival. Programs like Copia and Chewse to Give food donations allow residents to focus on achieving their long-term goals like affordable housing, employment, and general wellness.
Read on to hear more from Taylor Nichols on how meals from Chewse and Copia help the Trust’s mission to help residents gain self-sufficiency.
What do you see as the most valuable aspects of Chewse and Copia’s food donations?
Unlike other food programs, Chewse and Copia deliveries allow us to provide meals to our residents without added labor or transportation needs. The accessibility of the program is critical to its success in our buildings; people who have experienced the devastation to health and wellness that comes from living on the streets are challenged by day-to-day activities that most people take for granted.
Money management, cooking, navigating a grocery store – such seemingly simple tasks can overwhelm a person who has become accustomed to fighting for survival one hour at a time. These deliveries allow the Trust to remove one barrier to health and wellness and provide one of the most basic needs for our residents.
How has receiving food from Chewse and Copia benefited your community in increasing quality of life or satisfaction?
We’ve all had moments of hunger pains, and it’s difficult to function at those times. Imagine being hungry for hours and days on end. Our residents have a home but they still struggle with poverty and food insecurity. So when they know there will be a meal that day, or a few meals for days to come, everyone’s mood changes.
A person who doesn’t struggle with food insecurity might see [this] as just lunch, here, it’s treated like a celebration. Food is celebrated, it’s appreciated, and it’s savored. And when people’s stomachs are full, their mind is clearer and we are better able to help them focus on getting to doctor’s appointments, getting to support groups, and they are better able to reach their goals.
How has receiving meals provided a more positive outlook or life prospects of recipients?
There are a lot of complex medical needs for our residents (that often involve having to follow a strict diet), and many residents lack easy access to healthy, fresh food options. Residents are continually grateful and appreciative of fresh, quality food, that doesn’t have the barrier to needing transportation or further resources to enjoy. Deliveries create an opportunity to build community by sharing a meal with neighbors.
Together, we’re helping members of our community get the nourishment they need to get back on their feet. We’ve donated thousands of pounds of food in Los Angeles – and there’s no signs of stopping! Find out how your office can contribute with Chewse to Give.