Tag Archives: california

This Thursday: Learn About LA’s New Food Policy Task Force

We have a wonderful problem at MAZON… we’ve had so many donations in honor of the High Holy Days that we’re completely swamped just trying to process them all.

These funds allow us to support organizations like Hunger Action Los Angeles, who sent us the following regarding their monthly meeting this Thursday. These meetings are a great place to brainstorm ideas & learn about steps and events by various organizations and individuals to end hunger in Los Angeles and statewide (through collaboration with the California Hunger Action Coalition).

If you can’t make the meeting or live outside of Los Angeles, there are some fantastic snippets about food waste & conservation in a major metropolis and increased food stamp access in California towards the end. Frank Tamborello of Hunger Action Los Angeles also runs a weekly e-newsletter, “To All Those Interested In Food and Justice” chock full of hunger information & news articles. Check out this week’s issue, and learn of even more ways you can help hungry Angelenos & Californians!

Take it away, Frank…

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Fighting For Easier Food Stamp Access In California

The following was written by Marla Feldman, MAZON’s California Program Manager. She can be reached at mfeldman@mazon.org.

With unemployment on the rise and food pantries seeing 40% more people seeking emergency food assistance, it is critical that California moves to a semi-annual reporting system which will ease the burden on food stamp participants and allow them to continue to receive the food assistance that they need.   California is one of the last states to make this important change, as 48 other states in the country already have a semi-annual reporting system.   The California Food Policy Advocates has drafted a letter to the USDA, signed and supported by many MAZON CA grantees, to urge them to reject the extension of California’s waiver to make participants report household changes every quarter and to report with more forms than federally required.  If USDA rejects the waiver extension, the Department of Social Services will be more likely to move towards semi-annual, simplified reporting, which will increase access to this vital program.   To learn more about this important effort, please see the USDA sign-on letter attached.

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St. Joseph Center: Helping Hands in Venice, CA

It’s always sad to see a colleague go. But that sadness quickly turns to joy when you see them back at work for tikkun olam, social good.

Such is the case with Jacob Donnelly, an alumni of UCLA and MAZON’s Donor Services. He recently volunteered for The Venice Chronic Homeless Intervention Project, a major survey project benefiting Venice, CA’s homeless population. Here’s a short description of the project from the L.A. Times:

Throughout Venice, scores of [homeless people] sprawl in alleyways, on blankets under palm trees and near the canals in cardboard boxes. Many are addled by mental illness, drugs or alcohol. Some have life-threatening ailments.

And St. Joseph Center, a Venice-based social service agency that has served poor and homeless individuals for more than 30 years, wants to find them before it’s too late.

Between 3 and 6 a.m. on May 18, 19 and 20, teams of staff members from local nonprofit groups and government agencies, along with community volunteers, visited areas where long-term homeless people tend to sleep. In the most dangerous spots, Los Angeles police officers accompanied the teams.

Using a questionnaire developed by a Boston doctor with expertise in treating homeless people, the volunteers surveyed and photographed more than 200 men and women, asking how long people had been homeless and whether they had been diagnosed with physical or mental illnesses.

For more information on the project, its participants & the difficulties of treating some of the most vulnerable populations, read the full article at L.A. Times.

The project’s sponsoring agency, St. Joseph Center, also has a food pantry for working poor families, and a unique program: the Bread and Roses Café. The Bread and Roses Café serves meals to 150 homeless men, women & children daily in a small sit-down restaurant rather than a traditional soup line. Volunteers act as waiters, serving delicious dishes prepared by an in-house Culinary Training Program. It’s a great way to meet basic needs with dignity & respect, and build a community together. Like any other restaurant, it can get hectic during rushes, but above all it’s very efficient, very satisfying and lots of fun (I speak from experience; MAZON’s staff volunteered for a day at the Café last year).

We’ve also learned that St. Joseph Center has brought on Jacob as a crisis counselor & mental health specialist. Mazel Tov, Jacob, on your graduation from UCLA, your new position and your commitment to social justice!

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Hunger Action Day

This blog was written by Jerry Morgan of longtime MAZON grantee Interfaith Community Services in Escondido, CA.

This year, during California”s annual Hunger Action Day, I learned that advocacy is not “someone else”s job,” and that one person can make a difference.

Leif Ozier from Catholic Charities and I spent the day meeting with the staffs of Assemblyman Martin Garrick, Assemblyman George Plescia and Senator Mark Wyland.  Each visit made clear not only that these staff members were very happy to meet with us, but also that they were anxious to hear what we had to say.  I soon realized that with the enormous volume of bills, their bosses could not possibly know everything about each one.  We were there to educate, and they were there to learn what their constituents had to say.

As luck would have it, we had a general membership (brown bag) meeting here at Interfaith the next week.  I put on my newly acquired advocacy hat and spoke to my colleagues about the importance of contacting their representatives and making their voices heard.  I emphasized the power of every individual to bring about positive change.  They were very attentive.

In the future, I plan on speaking at every one of our membership meetings about a particular issue and to turn at least some of our members into advocates.  If it could happen to me, it could happen to them!

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