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Los Angeles Regional Food Bank needs donations, volunteers

December 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
People in California go hungry daily, but most think more about donating around the holidays. Food banks take donations, but with jobs scarce and companies watching their bottom line, donations have dwindled. Here are some smart ways to help.

A million pounds of food: That's what comes in and out of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. But according to Food Bank's policy officer, Jeff Dronkers, it's not enough.

"We have 640 charitable agencies that we serve, and for the first time in our history here at the Food Bank we have put a waiting list on agencies as far as accepting them," said Dronkers.

Two hundred agencies are now on the wait list. Large companies tightening their economic belts aren't giving as much as in years past.

With unemployment at approximately 12 percent in L.A. County, those who are jobless and those underemployed need assistance.

But one company that's stepping up to the plate is Kaiser Permanente, who donated: "$630,000 to nine food banks across the region to help make these healthy foods available to people in hard times," said Andrea Azuma, a Kaiser Permanente project manager.

And this past weekend, the West L.A. Food Bank got creative by holding a "pub crawl" in Santa Monica for Westside locations, raising enough money to yield 70,000 meals.

The food banks will take your food, but dollars go further.

"For every dollar donated to the Food Bank, we can turn it into four meals," said Dronkers.

However, if you're raiding your pantry, the most-needed items are canned tuna, peanut butter, canned produce and cereals. And just like you would at home, check for dented cans or any bulging, which indicate bacteria, as well as expiration dates, because if you don't want it, they don't either.

They get candy, stale bread, compromised cans and outdated products that they'll toss, which requires time and manpower.

So give the gift of health.

"We're really focusing on the cereals that are low in sugar, canned fruits in their own juices, and vegetables that are low-salt," said Dronkers.

If you would like to help:

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank volunteer opportunities

Kaiser Permanente Southern California Community Benefit

CalFresh Program

Former "Dancing With The Stars" Co-Host Samantha Harris will be taking a DanceWorks class at YogaWorks Tarzana on Tuesday, December 20. A donation of 10 non-perishable food items or $25 is required in order to participate. All donations will go to the LA Food Bank.

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