A voucher, like a gift certificate, is given to those who donate or volunteer their time in exchange for food which they can cash out anytime they want. [Source: Author, Joanne Chae]
Joanne Chae, Grade 9
America’s agricultural industry produces more food than is needed in America, yet 40 million US citizens still struggle with hunger every single day. Everyone should have access to a stable food supply because it is a basic right and necessity for survival.
In downtown Los Angeles, a prospering non-profit organization, World Harvest Food Bank, is fighting against hunger by providing, “...food, basic staples and living essentials to people who are at risk of hunger...”
Working families, veterans, students, and seniors who are not financially able to support themselves have an option to either donate $40 to obtain a cart stocked with groceries that retails for over $200, or choose to volunteer for four hours to receive 200 pounds of free food. This opportunity allows people to immerse themselves in a good cause and to take advantage of a more sustainable alternative.
World Harvest Food Bank’s founder, Glen Curado explains, “When I started this project, twelve years ago, it was only twenty dollars and the reason was because minimum wage was six dollars and fifty cents an hour. So, that was our price point...and as minimum wage went up, so did the price. So now, the minimum wage is twelve-fifty an hour, so it’s forty dollars. Think of it this way, as minimum wage goes up, your pizza gets smaller...food for thought.”
After paying a visit to the World Harvest location, they offered two free packs of romaine lettuce and eight containers of fresh ripe strawberries. [Source: Author, Joanne Chae]
Basked in endless love and support from its volunteers, community partners, and families, the World Harvest Food Bank is currently distributing an average of 25 million pounds of food throughout their facility. Their efforts allowed 74 tons of food to not go to waste, instead of ending up in landfills and causing environmental damage by emitting toxic greenhouse gases.
With World Harvest’s aspirational goal to help their neighbors, the number of partnership opportunities steadily grew. Together, with permission from Republic Services, a solid waste collection company in the United States, the food program redistributed food to feed animals at the LA Zoo. The efforts between these two organizations saved the zoo $16,000 per month, purely on animal feed.
The food pantry is stocked with a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, dairy, and eggs. Donations are majorly received from, “...the warehouses of the major supermarkets...Right downtown...the Central Produce Market.”
By partnering with more than two hundred organizations, the World Harvest Food Bank continues to create solutions for reducing food waste in Los Angeles.
In attempts to minimize carbon footprint and the over emissions of greenhouse gases, they take upon the responsibility to compost organic raw materials that can no longer be redistributed. Republic Services allows World Harvest to compost forty-tons of degraded organic materials, monthly.
World Harvest continues to grow and is planning for the future. “Our short term goal is raising money...,” according to Curado, “Our long term goal which is a three to five-year project, we are hoping to be able to buy a block with our own money or donation of cash from somebody...”
World Harvest’s main focus is to assist in offering ample and healthy varieties of food choices to individuals and families in 58 various counties within the state of California. Assuaging the concerns of those who face food insecurity, they advocate for a better future with their contributions of positive impact towards society and the environment.
Even if America takes pride in its profitable and productive economic system, the environment is paying the price as the sacrificial lamb for all the untended faults and guilty ignorance that the country has inflicted with their own hands.