"Our typical client does not drive a car. Our typical client will come by bus, come on foot," said Janet Marinaccio, president and CEO of MEND, which stands for Meet Each Need with Dignity. "We are seeing cars lined up easily for a mile to a mile and a half."
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MEND reports a 94% increase in demand in the last four weeks.
"At the start of 'Safer At Home,' we served just over 1,500 people that week," said Marinaccio. "Last week it was over 3,000. So we've seen a doubling of the demand."
And this nonprofit is facing its own challenges. Its annual gala and largest fundraiser was canceled due to COVID-19. Many grocery stores no longer have the supply to provide food donations, and MEND is unable to get the payroll protection loan.
"The supply chain has not been completely disrupted yet. We see limited amounts of things like milk and eggs, which are really essential for folks right now. But we have still been able to get them fresh produce and non-perishables," said Marinaccio.
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MEND distributes food from their headquarters Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. People are allowed to come once a week. Food bags depend on the size of the family. The supply should last three to four days. And if you're elderly or living with a chronic health condition and unable to pick up food yourself, you can get them delivered by enrolling in MEND's Pathways to Wellness program.
"Our staff take it to their home, delivering it safely with the proper social distancing. But these folks are people that couldn't otherwise get out to get the food," said Marinaccio.
Thanks to their partnership with the L.A. Regional Food Bank, MEND has served more than 10,000 people since the "Safer at Home" order. But they desperately need cash donations to keep feeding hungry families during uncertain times. For more information, visit www.mendpoverty.org.
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