St. Francis Center
St. Francis Center Hunger Relief Programs
One in four Angelenos suffers from food insecurity, which is now exacerbated by the pandemic. St. Francis Center provides hunger relief services through our breakfast and pantry programs to our surrounding community. But we don't only serve food, we also provide comprehensive services such as showers, rental and utility assistance, phone access, and longer-term case management interventions. Our services help individuals and families improve their lives, and the overall health and stability of the surrounding community.
Describe the mission of your organization.
St. Francis Center’s mission is to feed, serve, and walk with the poor as a community of hope in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- South LA
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, L.A. already had the largest food-insecure population in the nation, with one in five people living with food insecurity. Now in the current COVID-19 climate, this has jumped to one in four households. One hundred percent of the guests that St. Francis Center (SFC) serves are homeless or extremely low-income. Anecdotally, we are aware that a large percentage of our guests are undocumented, and as they are not eligible for government assistance, pantry programs like ours are the last resort. As SFC continues to navigate through the pandemic, our mission to be a reliable source of hunger relief and comprehensive support services for our community is more important than ever. A quote from a guest illustrates the need, “My husband has been in the hospital. He has been there for a few weeks, and we had no money. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t think we would be able to afford food. This service is a really big deal for us.”
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Our breakfast program provides the homeless with warm, nutritious meals and sack lunches six days a week. Last year we served 75,000 meals to guests in a modified to-go format to ensure social distancing. Our mobile shower partner, the CARE team through the City of LA, provides on-site showers every Tuesday. Our resource team distributes hygiene kits during breakfast hours, and hosts a resource table located outside the center to offer supportive services to our guests. SFC provides hunger relief services through our weekly on-site pantry services, bimonthly satellite pantries at four partner locations, and pop-up pantries on an “as-needed” basis in food deserts throughout L.A. Pantry program recipients receive an average of 60 pounds of fresh, nutritious groceries once a week. In 2020, we experienced a staggering 70% increase in the number of visits to our pantry programs, accommodating 39,583 visits compared to 22,415 visits in 2019. All of SFC’s hunger relief programs provide an opportunity to introduce individuals and families to SFC’s supportive services, giving them access to tools to improve their lives. Resources include hygiene kits, DMV ID vouchers, emergency clothing, phone access, transportation, information and resources, as well as rental and utility assistance. Use of these services increased 60% last year, from 1,335 visits in 2019 to 2,140 in 2020, illustrating in stark numbers the economic impact of the pandemic.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our vision is to reduce food insecurity in our community while providing our guests with tools to facilitate healthy living and tools to enable stable living. This year, we aim to host at least 40,000 total visits to our pantry programs and encourage consistent weekly use of our program. Each pantry program recipient will receive at least 60 pounds of groceries (primarily focusing on fresh produce, meat, and dairy) each visit. We will provide resource and utility assistance to 130 families. Through our homeless breakfast program, we will provide 64,000 warm, wholesome breakfasts and lunches to our guests. We will distribute at least 2,500 hygiene kits to our homeless guests during the program. We will provide resource services to 1,475 guests and case management to 25 guests. These resources assist with health and human service needs, reducing stress and increasing awareness of opportunities. This leads to less homelessness and a greater chance for guests to improve their situation.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Program staff counts the number of meals and pantry boxes distributed and records them daily. All Pantry Service guests are registered within our program and we record the number and frequency of program visits. Pantry Service guests are required to complete an internal census recording household size, monthly income, rent, number of children, ethnicity, etc. All resource services that are provided are recorded in Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Homeless Management System. SFC program staff conduct surveys with all recipients of pantry services through an annual internal census and provide evaluations as part of our rental and utility assistance program. We have consistent open conversations to find out about the needs of families and individuals and ways to incorporate this feedback into more client-centered services. For example, within the last year, with feedback from our community, we developed our pantry delivery program and Tuesday diaper distribution.
Which of the live metrics will you impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Food insecurity
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE)
Putting Public Lands in Public Hands: United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD)
The UNIDAD (United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement) Coalition supports development without displacement. As we emerge from a devastating pandemic that hit neighborhoods like South LA the hardest, it is more important than ever that we leverage public land for the public good. UNIDAD will educate and mobilize South LA residents to support community led development on public land that creates affordable housing, good jobs, green space, clean air, small business opportunities, and better, healthier neighborhoods for the same neighbors.
Sowing Seeds of Change
No-Cost Open Farmers Market
Our goal is simple: to feed our community and do so with dignity, integrity, and with the ultimate goal of food sovereignty. Our No Cost-Open Farmers Market program will provide food access to hundreds of individuals in our community. The program will create a triad of good, by diverting food from landfills, creating jobs for marginalized populations, and engaging the recipients of our food program in activities and workshops that will ultimately empower them to directly influence their food system.