In the heart of the Crenshaw District, in South L.A., a community food distribution drive through was held at the Los Angeles Sentinel on Saturday, July 18, 2020 from 9M – Noon, to provide groceries for community members experiencing economic hardship due with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bakewell Media, Los Angeles Sentinel, Mothers In Action, AFGE, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Labor Community Services, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Miguel Contreras Foundation, Teamsters National Black Caucus, Councilmember Herb Wesson of CD 10 and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the 2nd District collaborated to successfully distribute groceries to 2,500 families in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
The president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Roslyn Austin-Stewart, mentioned they are striving to make a bigger footprint in South L.A, to let the people know they support the community. “With the positive tests going up (Covid-19), and the community that we have struggling the way we are here in California, we felt that it was a need to contribute that much as well,” she said. According to Austin-Stewart, there are predictions of a second wave of cases, so as long as the people let AFGE know there is a need, the organization is committed to supporting these kinds of causes as much as possible.
The executive editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel, Danny Bakewell, Jr., stated, “As most people know, in South L.A. Black and Brown are disproportionately affected as a result of Covid-19, unemployment and various other things. Anything that we can do to help our community get through these difficult times is necessary, and something that we feel is a responsibility to do.”
Bakewell, Jr. feels the next step is empowering the community with resources, so they do not have to be codependent on food drives. In order to do that, he continued, “We have to continue to collaborate and work together to set our own course. The support we get from our elected officials like Herb Wesson, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and others, are greatly appreciated, in providing services and resources. We must also support our Black businesses; so that they can grow, so that they can continue to hire and empower residents in our community, so we don’t have to depend upon food giveaways for our survival.”
Yvonne Wheeler, national representative of AFGE District 12, says there is no national leadership at the top, so they had to come together and fill this void. “Right now we are trying to save lives, we are trying to help families that we know are underserved.”
We are in an important time in history, this country, and city where people are struggling. The need to come together could not be more urgent. Councilman Herb J. Wesson said we need to become one family. “Here we are helping out people today, there may be the need for somebody to help us out tomorrow. So that’s the only way we are going to work our way through this situation is to come together as a community and help one another. I just love being out with the folks. It always inspires me when I see other people helping people.”
Councilman Wesson reminds everyone to make sure your friends are who they say they are in times of adversity. “It’s during these difficult times you find out who your friends are, and who your friends are not. So, I’m just impressed with the community, we have come together, we’ve done some remarkable things. Somehow, someway, we will find our way through this. We all have to lock arms and walk our way out of this together.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said there is a food scarcity in the black community. “Food insecurity is real. In this moment of pandemic, communities just like the one we’re in right now are in dire need of our support.”
Supervisor Thomas acknowledged organizations such as Mothers In Action, church groups, and everyone who helped make the message clear that they will not abandon their own and they will support them in the hour of need. “We are going to push for people to register to vote, so we can change conditions in our communities, change conditions in our nations. That’s the ultimate way we are going to tackle food insecurity. That’s why I’m here, and I’m proud to be in solidarity.”
President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Ron Herrera, gives thanks to the volunteers. “You have to give credit to the volunteers that are out here risking their own health to feed those in need. At the LA County Federation of Labor, we fed over 250,000 people in the county, and we plan to feed another 250,000.” Herrera hopes this grows throughout the country, and throughout the nation.”
For some people, it has been emotional. Without the food drives they would not be able to eat, says President of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Michael Flood. “Some families, this is what they are going to eat tonight for dinner. They don’t have any food.” Flood proceeded, “I’m appreciative of all the groups, Mothers In Action, the Food Bank, LA Sentinel, and Labor Community Services. They are here to help the community.”
The volunteers at the Community Food Distribution felt honored to make a difference. With smiles on their faces, they were proud to be a part of a cause bigger than themselves.
The LA Sentinel spoke to volunteer Khallifah Muhammad, who is a Professional Hurdler, and a member of the Nation of Islam. “It’s always good to get into the community, and be a blessing to somebody else. When you get blessed, it’s always important to bless other people. We just wanted to get out and help any way we can, especially in these times we’re living in.”
Muhammad continued, “You want to keep your immune system up with COVID-19 going around. You want to keep the community vibe alive, that’s important. We are a part of the Nation of Islam, we seek to assist in any way possible.”
Mothers In Action President Tracy Mitchell, was more than thankful for everyone involved in Community Food Distribution. She proudly stated, “On behalf of Mothers In Action, The Bakewell Company, and The Los Angeles Sentinel and the 2,500 families we served, we would like to thank our village of sponsors, community partners, elected officials and volunteers who supported the Community Food Distribution on Saturday at the Los Angeles Sentinel.”
Mitchell went on to say, “It takes a village to take care of our families and community. We are stronger together!!!”
Mothers In Action wanted to thank all of the companies and people who provided the resources necessary to put on an event like this. She acknowledged Bakewell Media, Los Angeles Sentinel, LAPD South Traffic Division, the radio partners, KJLH, and 94.7 the Wave, Quality Equipment Rentals, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Fred Leeds Properties. Ms. Mitchell pointed out that this event takes hours of time and resources and also expressed appreciation for Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Robert Turner, Roslyn Austin-Stewart, Yvonne Wheeler, Michael Flood, Ron Herrera, Elda Martinez, Armando Olivas, Councilmember Herb Wesson Jr., Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas, Earle’s On Crenshaw, the staff of Mothers In Action & LA Sentinel, Kimani Black, Steven Neal, Sharon Polk, Patrick Muhammad and sons, Jabril & Khallifah, Latisha LaRue & Family, Dr. Pat Joseph-Thomas, She Works, all the families and unions that came out and help serve the community together.