Robert Sausedo, CEO of Community Build, Inc., left, and Pastor Anthony L. Williams of stand with some of the people lined up for the food distribution event at 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ on April 14. (Donna Dymally/88th St. Temple COGIC)

The line extended far down the street and deep around the corner as hundreds of people gathered to receive free groceries at the emergency food distribution on April 14, at 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ in South Los Angeles.

The event was a combined effort of Superintendent Anthony L. Williams, senior pastor of 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ; Robert Sausedo, CEO of Community Build, Inc. (CBI); and the Community Response System of South L.A. (CRSSLA), a coalition of over 30 nonprofits, churches and community stakeholders.

Over 1,200 people were served and scores of others volunteered, including Steve Wesson of USC, a premier CRSSLA network partner. The collaboration resulted in the distribution of more than 50,000 pounds of food, which was donated by the Sam Simon Foundation and Mendicino Farms Restaurant. The sustenance included fresh fruit and vegetables as well as pasta, beans, rice, bread and more to keep community members healthy.

Volunteers prepared hundreds of bags of groceries to be distributed to the community. (Donna Dymally/88th St. Temple COGIC)

A community leader for the past thirty years, Williams said, “It is important to take immediate action and respond to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This free food distribution event shall bring hope and fresh food to many within our community.”  He also noted that the assistance may bring comfort to people who might be experiencing anxiety, depression and hopelessness during the pandemic.

88th Street Temple COGIC has been designated as a CRSSLA emergency food distribution site. The dispersal is conducted inside of the church parking lot located at 8825 S. Vermont Ave., in Los Angeles.  Williams added that he and Sausedo would continue working hard to provide food distribution in the community.

 Many people received groceries on April 14. (Donna Dymally/88th St. Temple COGIC)

Robert Sausedo shared, “Today embodies the ‘culture of care’ that all CRSSLA network partners are providing throughout South Los Angeles.” CRSSLA network partners include Brotherhood Crusade, Los Angeles Urban League, Charles Drew University, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, Community Coalition, Vermont Village EDC and T.H.E. Medical Centers.

The members of 88th Street Temple are well known for their outreach activities to aid the community. This past December, Williams and the congregation partnered with County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to provide free winter coats, free toiletries and free haircuts for men, women and children in the surrounding neighborhood. In conjunction with other community groups, new toys and bicycles were distributed to youth as well.

At the time, Williams said that he and his wife, First Lady Bukeka Williams, aim to develop a variety of events “to serve our community by bringing hope and free activities for all ages to enjoy!”

Pastor Williams and his mom, Rev. Mother Williams, do praise dance after the food is distributed. (Donna Dymally/88th St. Temple COGIC)