- Karsh Center
It’s 11:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, and the Karsh Family Social Service Center team—two volunteers, our program coordinator, and our Serve the Moment corps member—are dancing around in different areas of the Leanse Ratner Family Food Pantry preparing for the newest addition to the Center’s weekly programs: the Tuesday Food Pantry distribution. Boxes of fresh produce are pulled from the fridge, and flyers with information about other services (rental assistance, our upcoming Potty Training workshop, a new mental health resource) are added to bags of pantry items, which another volunteer prepared the day before. While the team works, a hundred or so clients have started lining up on 6th Street, taking advantage of a lunch break from work, or a break during the school day now that their children are once again out of the house, to come pick up a bag of groceries.
On this Tuesday, we’ll also help register attendees for an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinic. We began hosting this additional Tuesday distribution at the end of February, and immediately saw a swift positive response, with more than 70 households showing up on day one alone. Tuesdays are now the Center’s fourth food distribution effort, in addition to: our flagship Sunday Food Pantry, which has been steadily providing groceries to an average of 250 households a week throughout the pandemic; the Mobile Food Pantry, in collaboration with seven to ten other organizations, serves between 350 and 400 households a week; and our family support program that offers groceries, and diapers, to between 70 and 100 families on a weekly basis. Each of these programs make the statistics we share every month a reality, and they create the space for us to continue to connect with clients as we work to understand their needs as the city moves forward.
When we talk about accomplishments in the last year, “quadrupling the amount of food we distribute at the Karsh Center” is a statistic with heavy implications about the difficulties facing our neighbors and the greater community. But our true north star is to meet the ever-evolving needs of those we serve, and with one in four of our neighbors in L.A. now experiencing food insecurity, the Tuesday Food Pantry and growth of our programs are evidence of our commitment to that effort.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, volunteers, the WBT community, and new collaborations, we have been able to follow this north star, and meet these growing needs with creativity, flexibility, openness—and a whole lot of food.