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Nonprofit program offers free food available by drive-thru and walk-up

Free meals have been made available to the community of Reseda through a local food drive.

By Anthony Lopez, Staff Writer

(Left to right) Petri Byrd, Megan Marderosian, Makita Bond and Wes Dunn are volunteers from The House, a church located in Los Angeles. They have spent the last nine months volunteering at the Drive-Thru Food Pantry, a biweekly food giveaway held at the ONEGeneration Senior Enrichment Center in Reseda. (Photo by Jeremy Ruiz/The Valley Star)

With resources such as food being limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the food-distribution center ONEgeneration has been providing meals to those in need since the beginning of January.

According to Director Niambi Cooper, the dates for distribution alternate as drive-thru pickups are the second and fourth Friday of each month, and walk-ups are held on the first and third Friday. Appointments must be made for walk-ups in advance in order to be eligible to receive food.

“Last year we were doing it [food drive] weekly,” said Cooper. “We were used to seeing roughly around 500 to 550 people each week. It has been going up each time and I am grateful that we have been able to help people during this time.”

Niambi Cooper is the director of the ONEGeneration Senior Enrichment Center in Reseda, and is responsible for overseeing the Drive-Thru Food Pantry, a biweekly food giveaway, being held on March 12. (Photo by Jeremy Ruiz/The Valley Star)

There are a variety of services made available through the program. The mobile food pantry events have been a tradition for ONEgeneration, serving over 2,000 families a month. For these events, the program reaches out to their sponsors and agencies (LAPD, West Valley, Devonshire and local churches) to help communities who are struggling with food insecurities.

“Working with everyone here has definitely taught me a lot about how important it is to give back to the communities,” said volunteer worker Fabio Ramirez. “I like this, this is fun work, and I want to continue doing this for as long as I can.”

There are no requirements or applications to receive food; however, a valid form of identification must be shown.

“To come to our food banks, it is open to anyone,” said Cooper. “We really want to focus on our seniors and the homeless communities in case they need help with food or other resources. This is what ONEgeneration is all about.”

An estimated 200,000 to 500,000 pounds of food come in monthly which include fresh produce, dairy products and desserts. The amount of food a family or individual can receive is based on the number of people per household.

Bryce Chan (left of center) and Rose Ortiz (far right) are volunteers responsible for marking and tallying hundreds of vehicles with families who come for the Drive-Thru Food Pantry, a biweekly food giveaway held at the ONEGeneration Senior Enrichment Center in Reseda on March 12. (Photo by Jeremy Ruiz/The Valley Star)

Not only do unhoused individuals and senior citizens qualify for the food drive, but people without reliable means of transportation do as well. ONEgeneration’s transportation department is in constant communication with the seniors, making sure that they make it to their appointments safely and on time.

“I always come here for the free food,” said Reseda resident Frank Chua. “The ONEgeneration Food Drive is always there to help me when I am lacking the proper resources.”

Aside from the program helping the community by providing public services, the program also manages to put a smile on the faces of those in need.

“It’s just a blessing to touch those individuals and hopefully it helps to impact and enhance their lives,” said Cooper.

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