Los Angeles, California
By Lis O'Brien
November 27, 2020
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, The Farmlink Project helped connect 10,000 pounds of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and turkeys to Los Angeles Mission, Watts Empowerment Center, and United Hands Compton in the Los Angeles area.
James Kanoff, Co-Founder and CEO of The Farmlink Project, drove a rental truck to the three locations, dropping off the 10,000 pounds of produce for distribution, along with some other Farmlink Project team members.
Other Co-Founder of The Farmlink Project, Aidan Reilly, also helped out at the Los Angeles Mission distribution. He recalls that, upon arrival, “there was a line of maybe 1,000 people around the block, waiting to get a hot meal.” James adds that they used the produce connected to Los Angeles Mission by The Farmlink Project to cook several thousand meals for the homeless. The meals consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and mixed green salads. James reiterates Aidan’s observation, describing how “the situation there was really upsetting, with a line wrapping around the entire block of people currently homeless... many with their whole family.”
James recounts the Watts Empowerment Center distribution as a “powerful event within a community really struggling… definitely a moment of people coming together.” Farmlink Project Deals Team Co-lead, Jack Rehnborg, was one of many who helped hand out these turkeys, potatoes, carrots and onions as a part of an ongoing distribution that Watts had set up.
Jack also helped out at the United Hands Compton distribution, where he and other volunteers helped make produce and turkey bags for a drive-by distribution, loading packs into thousands of families’ cars. Jack recalls this distribution as the “most intense” of the three.
“When we showed up and started sorting produce into bags, there was no one around. At noon, Martha, the organizer, put out a message announcing a distribution at 1pm and five minutes later there were cars lined up around the block. In 20 minutes, there must have been at least 150 cars lined up. We started handing out bags and were totally out of produce by 1:15, 15 minutes after the delivery started.” (Jack)
While loading a Thanksgiving pack into the back of one family’s car with four young kids, James recalls, , “the mother rolled down the window and said, ‘We really needed this this year. I never thought I would be here but here I am, thank you for helping me through the hardest time my family has faced.’”
Looking back at all three distributions, Jack said: “I think Saturday's deliveries showed the scale of this problem in cities like Los Angeles. We went to three different locations and the problem was just as desperate in each one. I think it's a pretty strong indictment of how we've failed as a country to support our most vulnerable neighbors in a time as hard as this year has been.”