ABC7 Salutes: Food to Life prepares, delivers weekly meals for thousands of SoCal veterans, seniors

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Food to Life kitchen is hopping with activity as volunteers prepare hundreds of meals. It's controlled chaos and the man in the middle is Rabbi Jeff Montanari.

"What we specialize in is taking that raw product and making it into a fresh-made meal, and then we deliver it to shut-in vets and shut-in seniors all throughout Southern California," said Montanari.

The meals are going to thousands of seniors and veterans each week. And because of the pandemic, Montanari has been ramping up efforts to make more.

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They call themselves "Wings over Wendy's"; veterans, and veteran supporters who, for the past 20 years, have met at one Wendy's restaurant in West Hills every week. But when the COVID pandemic hit, these vets, like the rest of the world went virtual. To stay connected, many learned how to Zoom and FaceTime for the very first time.

"The need is crazy. We have a waitlist, and we try to accommodate that as we increase our production here," he said.

They don't just make the meals: Food to Life volunteers are delivering those meals, too. For Montanari, a veteran himself, the reason to help is simple.

'You're serving the community, you're serving something bigger than yourself. And in this case, you're making a difference because the people we're serving, seniors and veterans, they need the help," said Montanari.

He and his staff of volunteers chop, stir, cook and then deliver. And now Food to Life is getting ready to help even more.

For his continued service to his country and his community, ABC7 salutes Rabbi Jeff Montanari.

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