Families across Southland are battling food insecurity this holiday season – CBS Los Angeles

STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) – In California, one in five families deals with food insecurity, and those numbers are even higher in Los Angeles, where food banks and the volunteers who staff them are struggling to keep up with demand.

On Thursday, many families were in the process of taking the last-minute touches to Thanksgiving meals.

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For other families, though, Thanksgiving shopping looked a little different this year as they lined up to get free food all over the southern area.

“The times are really tough and it’s a blessing and a help,” a woman standing in line at a food bank told CBSLA.

The extra need means everyone at LA Regional Food Bank works over time.

“LA depends on us right now because we’re feeding LA,” said Fernando Romo, who drives the forklift at Vernon Warehouse, a job he’s loved for 18 years.

Romo said he and everyone he works with have worked eight to 10 extra hours a week for several months.

“A lot of overtime and more agencies and more pounds of food donated to the agencies,” he said.

As the boxes get stacked higher and the pallets of food come in and out of the warehouse, they know they are needed more than ever.

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“Last year, as soon as March hit, you know, our local unemployment rate rose to 20% here in Los Angeles County, and we just saw this tsunami of demand for food aid,” said Michael Flood, president and CEO of the LA Regional Food Bank. said.

The pandemic intensified the need for those who fought, and despite the reopening of large parts of Los Angeles, the need is still alarmingly high.

“Our local unemployment rate here in LA County is 9.4%. So we are higher than the state average, higher than the national average,” Flood said.

At the height of the pandemic, the LA Regional Food Bank fed 1.5 million people every month. They still feed about 900,000 a month.

“We’re still running at more than double the 2019 levels. So that gives us an indication of how high the demand for food aid is throughout Los Angeles County,” Flood said.

As the price of groceries has risen by more than 5% in the last year, the largest increase in two decades, it has added an even greater burden on local families.

“People are juggling these bills and figuring out what they left for food,” Flood said.

The LA Regional Food Bank is always on the lookout for voluntary or financial donations, as they provide food to hundreds of local agencies and feed them in need.

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