By Christina Knight May 27, 2020
FarmLink, in collaboration with Food Finders and the City of Long Beach, distributed bags of potatoes to three communities near Long Beach. These areas, often referred to as food deserts, have limited access to food pantries. COVID-19 has exacerbated this issue. “The City of Compton was already facing lots of homelessness and hunger, but now more people are losing their jobs, there are more homeless people, and you see more kids being affected,” said Martha Barajas, CEO of United Hands.
United Hands, a neighborhood-run non-profit serving low-income families in the City of Compton, Los Angeles, is one of the organizations that received the potatoes from this shipment. United Hands distributed these potatoes to over 2,000 families at their weekly food giveaway. “It was a blessing that came from above,” Martha told us. She had planned on going out to buy potatoes that day, but the shipment provided them with enough food to feed every individual that attended the giveaway. Martha said that since the coronavirus outbreak, members of the community begin to line up at 9:00 am for an event that starts at 2:00 pm. “If you have people lining up in the hot sun for hours, that’s how you know it’s bad.” Martha also reported a large increase of men and children in these lines. At the last giveaway, over sixty men laid off from the same company that day stood in line for the potatoes and other produce. She also saw more children waiting—staying home from school deprives them of school lunches, which for many of them is their only meal of the day.
In addition to United Hands, The Ministerios Cristianos Faro De Luz, a church located in Huntington Park, Los Angeles, served the potatoes at their Tuesday free food program to hundreds of people from their local community, and Victory Outreach Church of El Sereno distributed the potatoes at their church. The demand for fresh produce and other food in communities such as the City of Compton has increased drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic. “I feel like it has hit my city particularly hard because I see it firsthand,” Martha said, “We will take any produce we can get.”